SPOILER WARNING: This article may contain spoilers from The Book Thief, Fullmetal Alchemist, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April), How to Get Away with Murder, and Stardew Valley. If you are avoiding spoilers for any of them, I highly suggest that you finish reading, watching, or playing them before reading this article.
In fiction, we often celebrate the heroes that saved the world or fought against the system. These characters are ideals that we look up to, but often they aren’t very realistic. No one in real life can save people the way Superman does, because no one in real life is like Superman. At least, the last I checked. In real life, we have people who did very little in the grand scheme of things. But to the people they affected, they saved or changed their lives. I have compiled a list of everyday heroes in fiction and their real-life counterparts. In no order of merit, we have:
1. Paula Meminger from The Book Thief
Source: The Book Thief (Film), https://flowvella.com/s/2oj6/The-book-thief?iframe=true
It’s difficult to be separated from someone you love. I can only imagine how painful it is to have to give up a child who you’ve loved and cared for so that they’d have a better a chance at life. Paula Meminger, Liesel’s mother, had to give up both of her children because she was “constantly sick and there was never any money to fix her”. Liesel’s life would have been completely different if her mother hadn’t left her in foster care. She likely wouldn’t have survived the war.
Many parents around the world are faced with this difficult decision and a lot of them worry that their child wouldn’t be better off in someone else’s care. That’s where adoption and fostering services come in. These parents can be assured that their children are in safe hands because background checks would have been done on prospective foster parents. The social worker working on the case would also be able to keep track on the child’s new family to ensure that the best care is being given to them.
There are many organisations around the world that aim to help parents who find themselves in that situation. In Singapore, one of the organisations that provides foster care and other social services, such as counselling, is Sanctuary Care by Boys’ Town. If you would like to read more about this organisation, or if you would like to get involved to help them with their mission, visit: http://www.sanctuarycare.org/
2. Dr Yuriy Rockbell and Dr Sarah Rockbell from Fullmetal Alchemist
Source: Fullmetal Alchemist (Anime), http://fma.wikia.com/wiki/Rockbell
Dr Yuriy Rockbell and Dr Sarah Rockbell were surgeons in Resembool. They left Resembool for Ishval during the Ishval Civil War to provide medical support to the Amestrian Military. They stayed neutral during the conflict and treated the sick and wounded regardless of whether they were Amestrian or Ishvalan.
In war-torn areas, the people who are most vulnerable are the defenseless civilians that are caught in the crossfire. Due to the ongoing conflict, many of these civilians aren’t able to seek the medical treatment that they require whether it is for injuries or for diseases that they have contracted. One of the most prominent organisations that helps such people in need is Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medicins Sans Frontieres. If you would like to read more about this organisation, or if you would like to get involved to help them with their mission, visit: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/
3. Kaori Miyazano from Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)
Source: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Anime), http://shigatsu-wa-kimi-no-uso.wikia.com/wiki/Kaori_Miyazono
Kaori played a large role in helping the main character, Kousei Arima, get back into playing the piano after he quit following his mother’s death. One of the ways that she does this is through pressuring him to perform in public as her accompanist, then later signing him up for a solo competition. Although her methods could be viewed as harsh and the language that she used to motivate him was brutal, she never gave up on him. She is one of the reasons why he was able to play again.
Growing up, some people don’t have, or don’t have enough of, a supportive structure at home. This can be due to a lot of reasons such as absent parents, broken homes, or financial difficulties. Organisations such as BP International Mentoring and Tutoring aims to help such individuals by engaging in youth volunteers to help these children in need of support. These volunteers act as friends, tutors and mentors to these children to push them towards achieving their potential in life. If you live in Singapore and would like to get involved, BP partners with many of the tertiary institutes and a few of the junior colleges.
4. Annalise Keating from How to Get Away with Murder
Annalise is far from a model citizen, let alone a model lawyer. She uses shady practices and manipulative tactics to win cases. But we also have scenes like this that exemplifies why she is a hero in her own right – she speaks with conviction. She fought for her client’s freedom and she spoke up for a community taken advantage of by a corporation. Annalise has also taken on pro bono cases such as Rebecca’s. I haven’t watched season 3 but from what I’ve read, she takes on more pro bono cases. The law may not always protect the vulnerable, but she was going to force it to.
Legal counsel can be very expensive. Furthermore, legal jargon can be difficult for a layman to comprehend. That means that people who can’t afford to hire a lawyer may not get the justice that they deserve. This shouldn’t be the case. The law should be just and provide all parties equal consideration. There are organisations that fight for that cause such as The Pro Bono Services Office of the Law Society of Singapore. If you would like to read more about this organisation, or if you would like to get involved to help them with their mission, visit: http://probono.lawsociety.org.sg/Pages/default.aspx
5. Penny from Stardew Valley
Source: Stardew Valley, http://stardewvalley.wikia.com/wiki/Penny
Stardew Valley is set during a war between the Ferngill Republic (where Stardew Valley is) and the Gotoro Empire. It isn’t explicitly shown throughout the entire game, but there are a few references that the characters make to the war. Likely due to the war, the two children in the Valley don’t have a proper school to go to. Penny takes it upon herself to teach them. If it weren’t for her, they wouldn’t have access to any form of education.
Education is a basic human right that everyone should have access to regardless of their socioeconomic background. However, in a lot of developing nations, establishing the same type of education system that we have may not be sustainable. One Laptop per Child is an organisation that aims to achieve limitless access to education by providing children in developing nations with low-cost laptops. If you would like to read more about this organisation, or if you would like to get involved to help them with their mission, visit: http://one.laptop.org/
There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the great heroes in fiction. People like that do exist, albeit in a more realistic sense. This article is meant to showcase some of the every day heroes in fiction – the ones that don’t always get the recognition for their small doses of courage. Helping others need not be daunting. There are always small ways you can contribute to a cause or help someone in need. We may never be as strong or as capable as the great heroes of fiction, but that shouldn’t stop us from being everyday heroes in our own right.