ORDINARY PEOPLE, EXTRAORDINARY ACTIONS
Black and white describes the clear line between eight and wrong. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected. However it is in these moments of despair that we see extraordinary actions arise from ordinary people. But what allows some of us to become heroes of society when it is often the very thing that crushes our hope for the future? While many of us would rather fall into the bystander category, it is those who choose the alternate path that shapes our society to the one it is today. However, all of us are tempted by the darker side of our visions; by the negative of the brighter picture. It is those who can visit the most horror on our world when conflict gives them the opportunity.
When push comes to shove, ordinary people tend to act in extraordinary ways. They can reveal the best of themselves because they have been forced out of their comfort zone. Steve Biko proves himself a prime example of this. Defying the Afrikaner Nationalist Government alone positioned his life, family and friends a vulnerable situation. Like the rest of the 98% of the black community, Biko could have easily been a bystander to the ideology imposed by the whites. Not only did he climb though the socially accepted level allowed by the whites, he nourished a movement that would alter political landscape forever. Black or white, in times of conflict, people often become susceptible to authoritative figures which then acts as a catalyst to a change in priorities. A similar situation can be likened to the journey of Steve Jobs, an American businessman and technology visionary who was best known as the co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Apple. His ideas were riddled with ridicule and mockery. Not only did he endure animosity from his own ‘authoritative figures’, the condescending nature often crushed his ideas and attempted to suppress his actions. However, one thing Biko and Jobs never did, was give up. They both were extraordinary visionaries who didn’t stop until they achieved the ‘impossible’, or in Biko’s case, till he died fighting.
Experience of conflict can lead to extraordinary acts from ordinary people. This doesn’t however describe a bystander; it describes someone who is oblivious to the matter until made aware. This describes someone who when is made aware of a barbaric dictatorship based on social segregation, will then stop at nothing until change has been made. This can be likened to the actions of Donald Woods, a man whose principle and beliefs comes before all other. Woods very well understood the apartheid regime but was unaware of its extremity and complete effect on the black community. Being a newspaper editor, he utilised his position of power to expose the Africana Nationalist Government to the best of his ability. He again like Biko, positioned his life, social status and family in a hazardous position. He did so by defying his ban, investigating the true cause of Bikos’ death and attempting to flee the country in order to expose them. An ordinary white man, who through experience gained knowledge, and therefore acting in a way not deemed possible. However due to the power held by the government, they were able to impose a ‘banned’ on Woods in an attempt to stop his endeavour. Nevertheless, what they didn’t know was that knowledge of conflict brought about extraordinary actions from ordinary people. This example can also be likened to the character of Tyrion Lannister from the TV series Game of Thrones. He is a misshapen dawf that is undermined due to his ‘limiting factor’. It is however in virtual times of conflict that he has stepped up to the plate when no other could. He honoured and protected the iron throne and did all that was in his power to do so.
Extraordinary however does not mean ethical. Unfortunately ordinary people can arise…