There are people that I greatly admire and their examples are an illumination to me.
Julia Butterfly Hill
Julia lived on two six-by-six-foot platforms for 738 days in a tree to protect it from clear-cutting. Whether you agree or not with the 'why', you must admire her tenacity, bravery, and passion. I was in college at the University of Houston and on a whim read her book The Legacy of Luna. Soon I withdrew from college and moved to Oregon. I made a poor activist in that mold, but I try to do what I can in my own areas. I met Julia once in Houston. I was amazed at the sense of accepting peace she gave out to everyone around her. She is the first person I'd ever met that I felt was a 'saint'.
I love her music and if she is performing anywhere near me I will drive to see her. Her performances are great, lots of energy, and songs you know by heart are always a little different whenever she does them on stage. She started her on record label, Righteous Babe Records, as a young woman with short hair singing songs against the status quo establishment of corporate white heterosexual male America. Yet America is hungry for her voice, it is growing, maturing, and in Ani we find a poet for our generation. She sings about her struggles, her successes, her lost nights and questions on gender identity, politics, love and more. Through all the uncertainties of life there is a core of identity that learns who it truly is and this integrity of self comes out in her art.
I am very lucky. I won the parent lottery. I am not saying that I am a great person, nor necessarily a very good one. But there have been times when I've been told that I am a fair person, or that I am a good leader, or that I am good at mentoring young soldiers, or that I am calm when others are freaking out, or several other things. All of these traits weren't learned in books or school, and my own experiences were discovering them so much as practicing them. All of the traits that are said of me as positives are examples that my dad lived. Through his example I've seen love, patience, steadfastness, courage, integrity, honor, industry, judgment, caution, play, humility, pride, devotion and more. My dad was a trailblazer, setting a new example from many around him. I try to continue his efforts, sharing what he has taught me with the world that I move through. When it is all done, who knows how wide his influence on the world will truly be.
Henry Rollins is an ass kicker. He may have the image of a punk-rock brawler, but he says in interviews that he isn't. I don't call him an ass kicker for this... but for his attitude toward life. He sang with the Black Flags and later The Henry Rollins Band. He's been in film and t.v., does voice over work. started his own publishing company, has written over 20 books, runs http://henryrollins.com does a radio show and tours speaking gigs with a progressive views.
"I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone."
I really admire the industrious nature of this person. She is an all-around badass. She is a comedian, a writer, an actor, a podcaster, and director, and... lest anyone forgets... a gamer. I recommend everyone listen to her podcast. Yes, it is her interviewing gamers, comics, authors, actors, and such... but the amount of resilience, life lessons, wisdom, humor, and more is more than any other podcast. I took one of her habits and made it my own, and it turned a year around. "Consume or Create", in other words... either make something work making... or read/watch/listen to something worth doing.
Her website is at http://aishatyler.com
Why these people?
The word 'hero' is tossed around casually today, so much so that it seems to lose its meaning. However I take a hero to be someone who lives with virtue. While it would be easy to list off people of antiquity that I admire, I am choosing four contemporaries. These individuals inspire me.