Monday, November 22, 2021

Write A Note To Your Hero

h/t to @theJLV, who reminded me this morning of something I've long advocated, but haven't brought up around here since 2014. And this year seems like the perfect time.

I write a weekly column in our local newspaper, and since I started, I've made it a tradition, every year as we head into Thanksgiving, to encourage readers to write a note to a hero.

I mean get out a piece of paper and a pen, and write a short note to a person who is a hero to you.

Now that we're swimming in negativity, and teachers and other essential workers are being clobbered by plunging morale, it's a perfect time to inject something positive into the world. If you value certain qualities, certain actions, then reinforce them. If you think the world is a better place because a certain person makes certain choices, write them a note to say so.

Yes, I know people are a complex mess, and that a person you admire for doing A might also be a person who you believe really needs to stop doing Y. We often let that hold us back because we don't want to seem to encourage Y, but that's backwards. If you want more A, praise the A.

And do it for yourself, because you don't have forever. When my long-time teaching partner retired, I almost didn't send a note. "I can just include it with a present at her retirement party in August." But the party never happened, because she did not make it through the summer. I had sent the note; on my phone, I still have my last text message from her, responding to that note I sent. 

Emails and phone calls are nice, but there is nothing like a solid physical note, a piece of paper that your hero can take out and hold, a note that they can happen across by accident and be reminded that they made a positive impression on someone in the world. Which in turn strengthens the good parts of the world. 

We are swimming in toxic negativity, in criticism of everyone and everything, and I am not arguing for trying to counter that with toxic positivity or toxic ignoring-unpleasant-realities, but man-- can't we just make it a point to tell someone something nice about themselves? Can't we just surprise someone with an indication that we noticed them making a positive contribution to the world?

And if it seems like I'm pushing this a bit hard, it's because you can't imagine how many people argue, "Well, I can't do that because---"

So here's the deal. Just write a short note. Start is "Dear [name]; You are my hero because--" then say why. Don't try to qualify it with an "even though" or a "but." A sentence or two is plenty. 

Since we're here talking about education, I'd suggest sending it to a teacher who is a hero of yours, because teachers have gone from heroes to  "evil creatures who singlehandedly screwed up everyone's education" in about six months, and if there's a teacher who mattered to you, I guarantee they'd love to hear about it right now. 

Telling people they Did Good is not something you ever regret--certainly not as often as you end up regretting NOT telling somebody until its too late. Let them know. Lift them up. We don't all get to be Adele, but we can all send someone a note. 

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