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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hero Worship

Related Link » Mark Steyn: Things only a Kennedy could get away with
“We are enjoined not to speak ill of the dead. But, when an entire nation — or, at any rate, its "mainstream" media culture — declines to speak the truth about the dead, we are certainly entitled to speak ill of such false eulogists. [...] We are all flawed, and most of us are weak, and in hellish moments, at a split-second's notice, confronting the choice that will define us ever after, many of us will fail the test. Perhaps Mary Jo [Kopechne] could have been saved; perhaps she would have died anyway. What is true is that Edward Kennedy made her death a certainty. [...] In a cooing paean to the senator on a cringe-makingly obsequious edition of NPR's "Diane Rehm Show", Edward Klein of Newsweek fondly recalled that one of Ted's "favorite topics of humor was, indeed, Chappaquiddick itself. He would ask people, ‘Have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?’"[!]”
— ‘By Mark Steyn, Syndicated Column’
It is a given that I have always subscribed to — America is the greatest country in the world. Moreover, we are, relatively speaking and in absolute terms as well, a good and generous people. But our societal value system is seriously flawed.

As human nature dictates, we value power, glamor, youth, success, and, above all, the almighty buck. Our non-denominational religion is hero-worship, and our common goal is "winning": it's not everything; it's the only thing, as one of our heroes famously summarized.

But Lombardi was being glib with a purpose. His pronouncement makes sense in a very specific arena: the world of professional team sports. In most walks of life, there are certainly other things to aspire to: honor, duty, personal accountability, decency, concepts that have largely disappeared from the halls of Congress. Perhaps it was ever so. I would like to believe otherwise, and so I shall.

My personal pantheon of heroes evolved over time, as did my personal value system. As any other child begins life, my first hero was Mom, followed closely by Dad. Sadly, I was not fortunate to have ever known any of my grandparents, all of whom perished in the Holocaust shortly after my birth.

As I began my quarter century as a full-time student, I began to acquire historical heroes, such as the great victors of Word War II. General Eisenhower ruled supreme in my pantheon at that time, during my family's status as displaced persons (DP's) in the American Occupation Zone in West Germany.

After coming to America, other heroes were admitted to my pantheon: Harry Truman; Duke Snider; The Lone Ranger; and Tonto. My choices now included heroes from the realms of politics, sports, and the all-inclusive category — fantasy.

As time passed, admission to my pantheon became somewhat less focused on laudable attributes of success. My inclination was to pay homage to the less celebrated/glamorous qualities. Although the much celebrated Michael Jordan, JFK, and yes, Natalie Wood, made the grade, some others, whom I will not name, did not.

Ultimately, though some aspect of a person's life may indeed be exceptional, I am only moved to admire such people if they have a modicum of decency to their name.

Post #909 Hero Worship

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