Since those who believe they need a hero/celebrity outnumber the actual heroes/celebrities, people feel safe and comfortably justified in numbers, committing egregious crimes in the name of the grater social ego. Ironically diminishing their own true hero-celebrity nature in the process.
I discovered Lauryn Hill in 1998 as a newlywed wandering through a music store in St. Petersburg, Russia. Hungry for anything in English, I perused the corner where the shopkeeper kept his Amerikanskaya muzika. His cd collection wasn’t huge, but there were some decent choices: Queen, Van Halen, Sting, but the sketch of a woman’s face and the words “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” caught my eye. So I bought the cd and ran home. And I listened to “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” every day till I wore out the cd.
Lauryn Hill has been with me since those early years of my marriage. A new wife, yet to be a mother, still feeling very much like a girl, she inspired me, pointed a light, showed me the way. And that way was to myself. That was a way that said, “Stand up on your own two feet and don’t look to anybody to do it for you.” It was a way that said, “Come on, honey, you can do this; it’s hard, but you can do this.”
Her no-nonsense truth-speaking, her strong-woman/strong-mother message continues to speak to me. Her lyrics have encouraged me, challenged me, taught me, and the beat of Hip Hop has kept my heart beating during dark periods of my life.
I listened to her song “Zion” when I found out I was pregnant with our second child, a boy. Written about the birth of her son, “Zion” encouraged me throughout my difficult pregnancy, and when my son was born, the only way I could express my gratitude was to remember her words: “I know that a gift so great is only one God could create, and I’m reminded every time I see your face…that the joy of my world is in Zion.” I have the words of “Zion” laminated on my fridge.
And now my children are no longer babies, and I find myself revisiting the strong message of Lauryn Hill. I want to remind my son and daughters that they should be true to their ideals and convictions, that they shouldn’t follow the mob or whatever fancy face is filling the tabloids at the moment. I want them to believe in themselves and find the strength to weather the storms of life. And I am encouraged and reminded to deliver this message when I hear the words of Lauryn Hill, who is to me a real hero, because she reminds us to find the hero within.