“Ordinary” Americans Can Be Heroes Too

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This July Fourth, as we celebrate the heroes who fought for America’s freedom, it is empowering to realize that each of us can be a hero. Just as our forebears stood up to colonial rule, we can take a stand when we hear of anyone—humans or animals—being mistreated. “Ordinary” Americans have accomplished great deeds: Someone “ordinary” was the first to speak out for the rights of black Americans, of women, of animals—of anyone whose voice wasn’t as loud as that of their oppressors.

I had the honor of speaking with many people who have changed the world while collecting words of inspiration for my book One Can Make a Difference. From the stories of international figures such as His Holiness The Dalai Lama to those of unknown students and artists, I have seen just how easily a single dedicated person really can improve the world.

Why not set out to be heroes ourselves? It can be as simple as throwing some delicious veggie dogs on the grill at your family’s holiday barbecue so that fewer animals and arteries suffer for the sake of appetite. You might collect books for school reading programs or eyeglasses for the poor. Whatever you do, no matter how big or small, remember that one person can make a difference.

Ingrid E. Newkirk, President
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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