I should be finishing the revisions my patient editor is waiting for, but I can't. Not yet. At least not until I put on paper a sense of outrage I feel after glancing at the editorial section of the Houston Chronicle. I hesitate actually committing because some will perceive my words as near heretical statements.
You heard me. Heretical.
Yes me, even mild, even tempered, consistently cheerful me can get riled up on occasion. And I am now. On page B12, covering over three quarters of the page, is a photo and text of a new graduate's commencement address. Part of the speech, what I can only assume the paper considered the most passionate section, is in italics above the photo.
Normally, I pass on reading such things, especially when I'm in the middle of revisions, but the nature of the italicized words and photo drew me. And, angered me. Not because the woman didn't deserve to graduate or because she was condoning something horrific like mass murder. No, I was angry because she painted herself as a hero facing the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, forever standing firm, never bending or bowing despite nearly insurmountable hardships, hardships she seemed to think were not of her making, but instead were cruelly thrust upon her.
What were these hardships? Four pregnancies, starting at age fourteen and ending at 25. All as a single person. Sad? Yes. Stupid? Certainly. Worthy of assistance? Of course. Hardships that only her courage enabled her to survive? Hell no. This woman deserves her diploma and all the accolades anyone gaining a Bachelor's degree deserves. What she doesn't deserve is the right to consider herself a hero.
I can hear you condemning me for my lack of sympathy. But I do not lack sympathy, I lack false sympathy for chest thumping false heroes. At the age of 14, this young woman chose to have unprotected sex. How heroic is that? The heroic person is the young woman that steps outside of the clique and does not get pregnant, does not have a baby at 14, does not have three more in the next ten years as a single mother, does not drop out of school. The courageous young woman graduates from high school, attends the college or training in her field of choice, graduates, and then starts a family. That is courage. That is something to brag about, to shower accolades upon.
For some reason the truly heroic woman is often ignored. We are often forced, through media, to focus on the bravery of the single mothers staying in school. These single mothers should receive all the help we can give them, but they are not the courageous ones. Those who choose to take the different path, the one less traveled, are the true heroes.