The great and legendary are rarely acknowledged as such while they are living. The reason is that during their defining moments what made many of them great was that they most often stood against the masses or triumphed in the face of overwhelming odds.
Most didn’t hide behind the times, but instead faced them head on. Actually, many were ahead of their times in both vision and decision.
They were trailblazers or trendsetters. They didn’t do what was easy or popular. They rejected the status quo and political expediency and often chose to live authentically or by their consciences courageously doing what they believed was right or just no matter the cost.
Others, at the time, were hypocritically judged for personal mistakes or momentary lapses in judgment when their talents and lifetime contributions far outweighed or overshadowed them.
And for that, the masses punished them with scorn, vilification, career assassination and even physical attack. Most lost their livelihoods and reputations. Others were also abandoned by their families and friends. Regardless of those consequences, however, they were unbowed and unbroken and their views or decisions remain unchanged.
In the end, their stances, acts or struggles placed them on the right side of history when the masses were not. And so later, those early foes eagerly purge their guilt when those who felt and would most remember that rejection are in their graves. Suddenly, narratives are rewritten, making it appear as if all critics were buried with the deceased.
T-shirts and posters popularize the names and images of those once scorned on protest signs. Postage stamps immortalize radicals. Buildings are named for counterculture rebels and monuments are erected in honor of those previously burned or lynched in effigy for their stances or actions.
History, ironically, is replete with these examples, but few would simply reflect on this fact before offering opposition and attack against those who embrace today’s unpopular stances or who, while extraordinary, prove to be as human others.
Eric Christopher Webb © 2016
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The WordsByWebb blog distributes a weekly quotation and reflection every Tuesday from National Black Authors Tour bestselling author and multi-talented writer Eric Christopher Webb (E.WEBB?!) to inspire, motivate and encourage personal development of its readers. The blog also regularly shares news, updates, new poetry and excerpts of the writer’s latest work. Webb, a spoken word artist, former Washington News Correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and nationally-syndicated Soul Searching columnist, has also been featured in movies, music videos, commercials and literary documentaries on HBO, BET Weekend’s Evening of Spoken Word, BET’s Rap City, Video Jukebox, The Party Machine, The Learning Channel, Voice of America and XM Radio. He is the author of five books, including "The Garvey Protocol: Inspired By True Events," a 2013 Phillis Wheatley Book Award Finalist for First Fiction and the National Black Authors Tour bestseller, "Love Letters, Death Threats & Suicide Notes." He has also contributed to numerous anthologies, journals and magazines.
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