"Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary."
*image from Yahoo! News
The above quote is attributed to Miep Gies in the obituary posted on Yahoo. If you have ever read the Diary of Anny Frank you will recognize the name as that of the woman who, along with her husband, hid Anne's family and four other Jews from the Nazis for two years. Gies said when Otto Frank asked her to provide refuge she agreed because it seemed perfectly natural to do what was needed by people who were powerless at the time. She felt it was unfair that she received accolades when others had done far more than she had. Even into her late years she continued her efforts to refute those who deny the Holocaust.
Ordinary. Natural. Human duty.
I agree that we need not regard ourselves as heroes in order to chose what is right even when those around us are not. We must not allow that sort of thinking lead us to apathy toward our fellow man. However, I respectfully disagree on one point with Ms. Gies. When evil is great enough and an ordinary housewife finds it natural to perform her human duty in protecting the powerless from that evil even at great personal risk it is irrefutably heroic. Perhaps some did more, but when so many did nothing Miep Gies did her part to resist evil so it may not triumph by the inaction of good people. She did it gladly and without hesitation. May she rest in peace. May her reward be great.