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  • Reverend James Squire

What It Is Like to Meet Your Hero

Photo by Anh Henry Nguyen


Yesterday (Sunday) I noticed that Trudy Rubin’s column was on the front page of the Inquirer focusing on the recent murder of Alexei Navalny. Mid-afternoon Vicki and I received a dinner invitation from an alumnus to have dinner with his family that evening. Present around the dinner table of sumptuous Persian cuisine was an expert on China from Stanford, a China expert and professor at Penn, and one of my heroes, Trudy Rubin whose life itself has been an adventure to rival Indiana Jones. Her expertise as a journalist includes countries such as Israel, China, Palestine, Iran, Russia, and Ukraine to name a few. She is a walking and talking political encyclopedia of wars and tensions around the world as she had a personal eye on covering the hotspots over the years. Her focus now is on Ukraine. She has also written extensively about the Israel and Hamas War.


I read her column in the Inquirer religiously and have found her to possess so much insight to whatever political event that is a hot topic in the news of the day. She was a friend of Navalny who has died in a suspicious manner in one of the worst prisons in Russia. She last spoke with him in 2018. Russia still will not release his body as the cause of death would point directly to Putin.


What she shared was that Navalny is one of the most courageous people she has ever met. He was deeply interested in how politics worked in our country and viewed such shows as The Wire, TV program about the political life in Baltimore. Our current political chaos in our country was scary to Navalny as the far right is playing into Putin’s hands. As a nation we have been focused so much on China and have forgotten the savage nature of Putin. Tucker Carlson’s love affair with Russia and Putin are filled with lies and a clueless nature. She doesn’t feel that there is a movement now to challenge Putin since Navalny’s demise.


Trudy Rubin has access to the Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines because of our technological advances. She spoke about the fact that if America had been quicker in providing arms and funds to Ukraine, the war would be over by now. She indicated that it is not the “boy who called wolf” that if support doesn’t come soon, Russia will win. Our Congress has taken a two-week’s vacation as the Ukrainian troops fight a war that makes us safer.


As I Listened to her as she described the courage of Navalny, I thought of her courage in going to places of conflict and the risks that she took in being a journalist on the front lines. She had been on the phone all day yesterday because of Navalny’s death yet was still ready to be in dialogue with the assembled group. Trump just mentioned Navalny’s name after several days of silence. I must admit that I was wondering how Trump would turn the hero’s death into something about him. Just when you think that he can’t go lower, he indicated that he is just like Navalny and was going through the same thing in our terrible legal system.


Trudy Rubin is passionate about bringing the facts of politicians and courageous people such as Navalny out in the open for all to see. She is one of the most courageous people that I have met, and I was mesmerized by the stories she shared.


The gratitude letter in Positive Psychology is a powerful way to communicate our gratitude to others we meet. It made my day to tell her how grateful I was for her important work and her courage to go where most people would be afraid to go. It was my gratitude letter to her. I felt great saying it. I think the smile of this warrior for truth seemed to indicate that she felt great hearing it.


Regarding heroes, perhaps Mr. Rogers said it best: We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, “It’s not my child, my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” He couldn’t describe Trudy Rubin any better.

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