“Even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can turn on a small light in a dark room.”
These are the words of Miep Gies, a secretary who worked for the Frank family and then went on to hide eight Jews from the Nazis in the secret Annex. Recently, Gies’ story is the focal point of a Hulu series “A Small Light.” This show does a deep-dive into the figure many have come to call a hero, but there’s something absolutely stunning about the show’s portrayal of Miep: They show that she probably wasn’t the person you think she was.
Miep Gies is portrayed as a bit reckless, a bit lost, and a bit blunt. She takes the job with the Franks out of desperation and takes quite some time to prove herself. The series follows the ups and downs of her relationship and marriage, her friendships, and her own fears. In short, Gies isn’t portrayed as a saint or the most likely woman to be a hero. And that’s what I loved so much about this series.
It really highlights in a way that is emotional and easy to connect with the point that heroes aren’t perfect or made of a different stock. Just like us, they have doubts, fears, impulsivity, love, tears, and everything in between. Miep Gies wasn’t the most likely candidate to do the brave thing she did–but she made the choice to do it. And in a dark world, choosing to be a light is the biggest choice we can make.
This series underscored the risk and the daily struggle Miep went through. Everything from getting food in a society that was rationing to not being able to trust anyone were daily battles Miep faced. Through it all, she fought for two years to protect the Franks. We all know the story didn’t turn out in the way anyone would hope for. Still, Miep’s tale demonstrates her quote in a way we can’t deny–anyone, anyone, anyone can be a light in a dark world.
So often in modern times, we forget this. We think that to have purpose or meaning in our lives, we have to start a nonprofit or donate millions or give up our jobs to devote ourselves selflessly to charity work. Miep shows that everyone has the ability to make choices, although sometimes difficult ones, to use their daily lives to help others. She reminds us that there is always a way to make a difference, even when it feels impossible.
Her story has stuck with me long after the last episode and will stick with me I think forever–because in a world that is complex and fiercely dark sometimes, Miep Gies reminds us that we all have the chance to do the right thing.
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