Where do we nowadays look for what people think on any issue? Of course, we go to Internet sites, forums, and look at different blogs. And sometimes there is a feeling of oversaturation. A huge category of people call the worldwide web dump and believe that there is no one to dialogue with. Such people don not even try to speak. They know that their voice will be lost, that it will become a ghost. But I tried to go back several decades, when letters were the only way to reach someone. I found a site where people put up their adresses because they want to receive letters. I sent out more than forty letters.
To everyone I wrote to I asked one, rather personal, perhaps intimate question: ”Who is your hero now?” I wanted to hear the voice of a stranger. It was interesting for me to find out who a person admires and why. Who is a role model for them. It is funny to hear that someone will just write to a stranger in a distant country and immediately get a frank answer. I did not hope for much, but the first answer came and – fireworks! People of different ages from all over the world responded!
Nick replied from the United Kingdom: ”My Hero is a man called John Rae a very little known doctor, surveyor and Polar explorer. He is only just being recognised for his amazing exploits. He is now credited with discovering the North West Passage.”. Nick even recommended that I read a book about this researcher.
Calvin from the Netherlands: ”I think that our crown princess of 16 years old comes near the image I have of my hero».
Karin from Germany: ”…my friend. She is a widow and also she have a son who is autistic. So you can see, my heroes are people like you and me. And my grandma. She had 5 children, 20 grandchildren and more than 40 great grandchildren.”.
Pirjo from Finland: «She was my aunt Aune. When I was a little girl, every summer holiday she came to my home. She liked nature, plants, flowers. She sent cards to me, bought me a flower book. She collected flowers for me when I was in school, and together we collected 80 plants. She went in the forest and gave hugs to trees. I do the same now. She respected nature and now I respect her. She is my hero, I learn from her.”.
Elisa from Finland: ”He is Sulevi. I was married for 37 years. I have three adult, wonderful sons. My youngest son is autistic. My marriage was hard, or maybe I can say sad. He is an alcoholic and I did everything at home, especially pay the bills. But he (Sulevi, current husband) came and stole my heart. He is my hero. My everything.”.
From Australia came a response from Bridget, who spoke fondly of her grandmother: ”I was brought up by her. She had seven children, then she adopted another one. She had absolutely nothing but made do with what she had. I only remember being very happy and loved. and got lots of cuddles. I learnt a lot from her, mainly sharing, caring and life skills. Now my husband wonders why I cook so much for the two of us. But what if guests come? And our table is not set. This is what my grandmother always did. So my grandma is my hero.”.
Siebe from Belgium: «My hero is my doctor who is specialized in intestinal diseases. He is my hero because he is in the front line fighting against covid-19.”.
Answers also came from Portugal, Russia, America, Estonia, USA, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and China. Each postcard or letter was a handmade masterpiece and I wanted to re-read them over and over again. These people express their opinion without fear of being interrupted. They open up and flourish in their written lines.
The letters that I hold in my hands are a good example of the fact that for any asked question I can receive a sincere answer, an answer with a friendly message. Such openness, such frankness shows that people want to speak and be heard.
They think over every word, weigh, reason. Is this not the case that brings us as close as possible to the true concept of freedom of speech? When everyone begin to take responsibility for what is said, we will be one step closer to being heard by others.
We just need to ask. Ask, ask and ask. And get answers. And then, when all this endless stream of voices merges into one, powerful ONE, no one will be able to avoid it, say I did not hear them.