It’s okay for a hero to have flaws. In fact, it’s better.

The ways we talk about our heroes in this narrative describe people who will make this quest victorious: people who work together to make things better; people who never stop trying, even when hard times knock them down. The more specific types of heroes are neighbors who look out for each other, caring parents, and others.

But it’s not enough to talk about these kinds or types of heroes. We have to talk about the real people who are out there, the people with the courage to do what’s right. We talk about the real people who have flaws.

Flawed people are in both movies at the local cineplex and in our work to make our quest come true. Perfect heroes feel plastic and unbelievable, and also feel like shoes too big for an ordinary person to fill. (Speaking of the local cineplex, if you are in Seattle, the Cinerama downtown is now selling chocolate popcorn. Seriously. Just walking into the smell of it feels like you are bathing in chocolate.)

Heroes with big courage and real flaws are essential because we want those shoes to feel like they could be my shoes, or a neighbor’s shoes, or maybe an elected official’s shoes.

A great example is the story of Ramon Mendoza-Pascual, a new American who helped lead the hunger strike down at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. This is a place where immigrants who came to America simply to work for a better life are being held without hope for months and months, separated from their families because of our unjust immigration system.

Mendoza-Pascual has been there for seven months. He told KUOW the hardest part is being separated from his kids. He has three kids ages five, 11, and 13.

The thing is, by seven months, most people have given up. They’ve taken the deal, and singed the detention papers so that they could be with their families again.

When I think about being separated from my five-year-old son, even for one month, my heart shrinks.

But as I listened to the radio that day, I heard that Ramon Mendoza-Pascual always told his wife that if he ended up in detention, he’d take a stand. “I told her, I wouldn’t be another number. If I ever ended up here, I’d do something. This has to stop already.”

This is what defines a hero. Somebody – hopefully somebody sort of like me, the audience – who finds in him or herself the courage to do what seems impossible. Who refuses to give in. Somebody who is willing to stop them. The villains, I mean.Look, we know that our immigration system is not living up to our ideals. Our country was founded by people who came here to make a better life for their children, people who were willing to work hard. But now, there is a racist, hateful narrative that is controlling our immigration system. This is wrong. It’s not in line with our American values. It doesn’t have to be this way.

So Mendoza-Pascual secretly organized a hunger strike, even though it means he is separated from his wife and the three kids he loves.

And here’s the thing that made me perk up. He has a flaw, a DUI in his record. Immigration officials detained him when he was pulled over by the cops, waiting for his wife to pick him up.

No PR person would look for someone with a DUI in their past and turn him into a spokesperson for a campaign.

But maybe that’s the difference between what we are doing and PR. We are working on our true story, not the most polished version of the truth In true stories, heroes have flaws. They are too impulsive, too rude, or not big and strong enough. (As Princess Leia would say, “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?”) But they go for it anyway. They don’t take the deal. They say “I’ll be the one to stop them.” And because that hero has flaws, as I do, I believe that maybe I could be him.

It happens to me in movie theaters every time: if the story is real and good and important, and if the hero has the guts to say “No” in spite of her or his flaws and the big things at stake, I leave with a hope in my heart that maybe big change is possible. That courage is out there, and also that it is in me.

Wouldn’t it be good if we turned that courage loose in our own work? The courage to be imperfect, to say to each other that we can be imperfect and brave and stand up, and have our voices heard, all at the same time?