Quiet Heroes in Trying Times
I know I’ve been over this territory before on these pages, but it never hurts to revisit some things, such as the idea that real heroes are found, not in the sports section or on Entertainment Tonight but under our own noses.
They’re often difficult to spot, as for the most part they shun the limelight. Not only do they not look for recognition, but they’re often toiling away in committee meetings or writing reports far into the night, far from the public view. The dragons they slay are generally bureaucratic in nature and their uniforms are either business suits or sweat pants. They certainly don’t receive endorsements from Nike or Gaterade, or even Tim Hortons.
I’m talking of course about the people in our community who get things done. Sometimes they’re community leaders, sometimes they work behind the scenes. They’re most often volunteers, either recently retired or putting in their hours after their paying jobs are done. They have been part of the Canadian Nikkei community almost from the moment the first immigrants arrived on these shores. They come from all walks of life—the business world, the arts, the civil service. They don’t always agree with each other, sometimes they work for competing organizations, but they share one thing in common: they work long hours for little or no recognition, even within their own community, to make things happen. They get cultural centres and language schools built. They raise funds for seniors and youth. Sometimes they work on a smaller scale: they take seniors on daytrips. They volunteer at community events. Whatever the scale, they do the jobs that others can’t or won’t do, and we all reap the benefits.
When they’re done, they don’t get their name put on a building. They’re lucky if they someone buys them a drink.
Over the years, we have tried to profile these quiet heroes in The Bulletin. Sometimes we miss them and sometimes we ask but they don’t want to talk about themselves. Generally though, they’re happy to talk about their lives and their philosophies, and their grandkids of course. I always come away from interviewing these people with a renewed sense of purpose and a greater appreciation for the foundation of hard work and fortitude that our community is built on.
Bob Nimi, the subject of this month’s cover story—and a quiet hero himself—came up with a good name for the quality that best suits these people: steadfast. It’s a term that captures perfectly the stoicism that stood this community well through the hard years, that saw my generation and the ones following me grow up well-cared for, even if we don’t always appreciate it.
This month sees two of our own, Bob Nimi and Richard Murakami, being honoured for the good work that they have done in their communities. It is not work done in the short term, but rather for years upon years, like the waves rolling in from across the Pacific. Their selflessness reflects well upon us all and should serve as an inspiration as we go about our lives. Congratulations to both for their well-deserved accolades.
Steadfast. I like that . . .