15 Quotes from Novels that show us where to find our Heroes

There has been much talk in recent months about looking for a hero to come forward and save us from the tyrannical and fascist impulses of President Trump and those who surround him.

Some, like Jon Stewart, beseech the media to stop wallowing in their dying relationship with Trump and “get their groove back” before it’s too late.


Others look within the Democratic Party, hoping that between the new leader of the DNC and perhaps a higher voter turnout in 2018, we can take back some seats and turn things around.

Still others scope out the Republican Party, looking to figures like John McCain or Lindsey Graham to save us from tyranny. But most of this unlikely, and we know it. After all, that’s why we laugh at this Saturday Night Live commercial.


We are looking for heroes in all the wrong places.

Our next heroes cannot be expected to rise from within the masses of our elected (or not-so-elected) leaders. The heroes we are looking for will be among the empaths, the creatives, the inventors, the thinkers, the geeks, the writers, and the readers. In fact the hero we are looking for is inside all of us. Writers have always imparted this wisdom, consciously or unconsciously, and it comes through their stories.

Jodi Picoult (Second Glance)

“Heroes didn’t leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn’t wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else’s. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.”

David Foster Wallace (The Pale King)

“True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care—with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.”

Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

“The thing about a hero, is even when it doesn’t look like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, he’s going to keep digging, he’s going to keep trying to do right and make up for what’s gone before, just because that’s who he is.”

“Bottom line is, even if you see ’em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.”

Cassandra Clare (City of Heavenly Fire)

“Heroes aren’t always the ones who win,” she said. “They’re the ones who lose, sometimes. But they keep fighting, they keep coming back. They don’t give up. That’s what makes them heroes.”

“Because the world isn’t divided into the special and the ordinary. Everyone has the potential to be extra ordinary.”

Shannon L. Alder

“People who fit don’t seek. The seekers are those that don’t fit.”

“Spiritual pain is when you can’t stand another moment not knowing the real truth, and when you finally do know you can’t let go.”

John (Fire) Lame Deer (Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions)

“All Creatures exist for a purpose. Even an ant knows what that purpose is–not with its brain, but somehow it knows. Only human beings have come to a point where they no longer know why they exist.”

George Orwell (1984)

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

M. Coetzee

“Become major, Paul. Live like a hero. That’s what the classics teach us. Be a main character. Otherwise what is life for?”

Stefan Molyneux

“…So forget your politics and vampires and magic wands and photon torpedoes. Forget passively waiting for the world to provoke and corner you into being virtuous. It never will.

“Stop watching fictional courage and go live some; it is harder and better than anything you will ever see on a screen.”

Leif Enger (Peace Like a River)

“Sometimes heroism is nothing more than patience, curiosity, and a refusal to panic.”

J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

Veronica Roth (Divergent)

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”

For further reading, here is a list of quotes that warn, caution, and outright predict today’s circumstances.

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