|Hedy Lamarr -- actress and inventor|
They were people of 'sand' as my father used to say ... a character that was willing to step out of the crowd mentality of its time. No, I have little or no evidence outside a documentary, perhaps, but still they flutter on the edges of consciousness.
Sharpshooter Annie Oakley who shot straight and had a firm backbone.
Actress phenom Hedy Lamarr, whose technological brain power of the 1930's was not in step with a Hollywood vision of her as a beautiful woman. It was not until the 1960's that the Navy adopted her ideas to its torpedoes.
Marine Corps General Smedley Butler.
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, who spoke for and acted for equality when others only spoke about equality.
Tennis great Billie Jean King, whose homosexuality was widely and derisively whispered. She absorbed the bruising without any overt reaction. (Male joke of the time, for example: "Q. Who eats pussy? A. You, me, and Billie Jean King.")
Black-listed screen writer Dalton Trumbo, whose colleagues saw their lives shattered by the communist witch hunting of U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
The Dalai Lama whom I once saw from a distance of under eight feet help an elderly Tibetan woman to her feet after she bowed her forehead to his feet in homage ... and then could not get up.
Charles Monroe, mail clerk in New Marlborough, Mass.
Ben Higgins (1894-1981) who wove his first basket at five (if you believe Google) in nearby Chesterfield, Mass., and kept at it for a lifetime... praise and blame were waters for others to ply.
All and more like them stepped outside their herd-driven roles as victims or heroes. Not least among them, my wife, Elizabeth, who managed to survive three children -- and me -- while I worked nights. Jeee-sus!
Through it all, one way and another, I guess some things hold water: Everyone, irrespective of color or sex or religious affiliation or feeling victimized is entirely capable of being an asshole. Likewise, everyone is capable of reflecting a little, looking a little bit in the bathroom mirror and finding shades of courage and kindness. Is any of it true? Is any of it isn't? I don't know, but I do know I wish I had done things a bit better ... a bit more in line with my heroes and guideposts and a little less with my own herd-instinct reflexes.