The heroic in the humdrum

The past year has been a disturbing one, both at home and in the world. Political upheavals and climactic shifts, storms of various kinds, economic instability caused by drastic policy changes, and general hardship all around particularly for communities and individuals that seem to bear the brunt always – those at the margins of society. We were haunted by images of children in Aleppo, a city that’s become symbolic of the world’s helplessness – or inactivity – in the face of human suffering. Everyday life was disrupted by the demonetization drive that suddenly drove people to realize the value in every last small note and coin. Wind and rains lashed our coasts in an annual reminder that nature after all does have the upper hand.

So when we look over the horizon of the calendar in the hope of some sunshine, it’s hard not to feel troubled and apprehensive. Yet we go on. There are syllabi to be completed and children to be coached, special days to be planned and meetings to be attended. In fact, it is the details of our daily lives that save us from a sense of complete hopelessness.

The cover story theme of this issue comes at an opportune time, perhaps, although we didn’t really plan it that way. The authors in each of the articles dealing with the theme focus on how we can bring the heroic to the humdrum. We do live in extraordinary times, times that call for a different perspective, times when an aggregate of small acts can make a big difference – to combating the huge challenges that face us, whether they are political, cultural, environmental, or economic. The person who decides to stop and lend a hand to an older person struggling to cross the street, the one who helps someone fill out a form, the one who calls out the harasser on the bus, the one who carries a cloth bag to the market or the one who chooses the inconvenience of separating trash. These are all small acts of decisiveness – and while they may not add up to our notion of the heroic, they add up to a big change.

So we can all choose to be heroes of our own space and time, in our own space and time. By making the choice that is – individually – a little harder, a little less convenient, a little more time consuming, a little less comfortable. But so much more better for the whole lot of us.

Happy 2017!