Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Heroes

You find heroes where you least expect them. Sometimes nobody else considers them to be heroes, or at least nobody has noticed yet. They are original heroes. Eventually they are in the right place at the right time and what's inside them moves them to action. Only then does someone notice and they become popular heroes.

People with exceptional and rare combinations of both intellect and heart are my first choices. People who show a kindness quietly when no one is looking when there is no motivation for gain or notoriety.

Those are the people who inspire me.

There are antiheroes too. Those who believe that "he who dies with the most toys wins" top that list. Some popular heroes are frauds and only gained that regard via artful and painstaking manipulation.

See? That's part of the problem. Many members of the TV generation think that HERO = CELEBRITY. Just ain't so. To quote Bush 41, "Not gawn dewit."

I'm not saying that its not good to drive a nice car.. I even had one once but I wouldn't trade all the Hummers or Ferraris in the world for a single wave or meaningful moment with a friend. OK, so I lied...I could give up a few, but not all, waves for a Ferrari. The best things in life are not the trophies that people point as signs of their own worth. That sort of self-absorption confuses greed for love and envy for respect....

For those who chase illusion I suspect that in the end, there is only regret. So my heroes are those ordinary optimistic people who care about others besides themselves, who never look back, and who in some small way touch those around them with their spirit.

Yeah, I know. It sounds kind of, well, uh sappy and soft doesn't it? But that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Life is full of contradictions. Sometimes to get it all you have to give it all up. Sometimes it takes more strength to show a weakness than it does to constantly parade your toughness.

IMHO (in my humble opinion)

I was looking through the wide variety of "heroes" in MySpace and it got me to thinking. I know, uh-oh, that gets me in trouble whenever I do that, but I just can't help myself. At times I can be more entertaining to myself than TV.

Consider the local news:
Local news in LA is just murders and movie stars, nothing substantial of social significance. It's just a mind-numbing distraction from what we do the rest of the time.

Consider the national news:
You've either got angry people yelling at one another or blaming the country's woes on some group that's not even in power, or it's milquetoast.

"Well, Bush did lie about WMD or was ignorant but those figures Kerry gave in the debate were off a few points."

Our media today, in it's quest for ratings, tries to give everyone a little of what it wants without offending anyone. Jeez, what do they do when offensive things start happening in the world, like, uh, maybe dropping a lot of bombs? Oh yeah, don't believe all that pinpoint accuracy nonesense. If you do, you need to dig a little deeper, to find the truth.

So today there is this type of political moral relativism that leads the media to say certain things, as if there were no difference between objectivity and neutrality. Washington beltway MSM (that's mainstream media) are like one giant sphincter which tightens and relaxes in unison. It's kind of like a parent of two young boys who gets so sick of the fighting that they snap and say "STOP! Yes, Jimmy was wrong for planting the claw end of the hammer deep in your skull Billy, but you were wrong too and shouldn't have called him a doodie-head." Because things through the media are made to seem so distant, as we are encouraged to "go out and shop", we have lost the ability to weigh and discern what is credible or egregious.

Sure our government is giving Halliburton contracts without competitive bidding and an offshore division that pays no taxes is dealing directly with Iran, a state that really funds terrorists (unlike Iraq), but on the other hand, John Kerry came back from Viet Nam and actually protested the war! The nerve! Gimme another latte with an extra shot.

Wake up and smell the dirty socks or bury your head in the sand like an ostrich, there is a choice to be be made here...or run from. Once the floodgate cracks open to begin allowing two contradictory things to be tolerated simultaneously without question there is no end to what can be written off without remorse. I really believe that America is suffering from some sort of collective emotional breakdown and that makes us susceptible to some politician who tells us how good we are and that he "Loves our values." Why do I feel like someone 5'4" and 200lbs who is told around closing time at the bar, "You look like you've been working out"?

Or maybe everything is just illusion and we are trapped in the matrix like so many seem to be.

Uncle Sam has now become a corporate bitch who has to bend over and grab his ankles each and every time some corporate bubba dangles a few greenbacks. Bush let the foxes in the henhouse. While taxpayers get nailed and pay taxes til it hurts (the kind of hurt that those near the poverty level feel, not the kind that might result in having to reduce stock options to some corporate bigwig making 10-100 million per year) as the price of our freedom. Giant corporations, apparently the source of all that is right with America, after benefitting in one of the most business-friendly political systems the world has ever known, pay ZILCH, and show their thanks by exporting our jobs overseas.

The big political divide that has formed should really not come as a big surprise, SHOULD IT? I mean, it is kind of hard to dismiss some of the things that are happening with the wave of a hand. I used to have a grandmother whose favorite expression was "Well, I just don't know about that." She loved Nixon til the end and maintained that "He was such a nice man and I'm sure that if he lied he had a good reason for doing so."

It's hard to believe, given some of the things that are happening, that there is any middle ground at all. With the likes of Halliburton one either has to be shocked, betrayed, and angry or simply trust those who tell you it isn't so.

Oh, to be a child again, to be tucked in at night and have food put on the table on schedule. To trust, no, to know that all that is done without our involvement. Sorry, we're adults now and should not be so trusting when it comes to choosing who leads the country.

The worst thing of all, the thing that gives so little cause to hope, is that our national media is eating out of the governments hand.

During Viet Nam, there was no shortage of imagery that surrounded the carnage. We saw it daily on the nightly news. That sort of made that war up-front and personal even though we were safe in our living rooms. My wife gets upset if I say "doodie" at the table so just imagine having the TV on and seeing the body of a child burned to a crisp. There were images of seemingly miles of body bags coming home. Finally, after getting hammered on the head with this for a few years, people started asking "Why?" That was long overdue.

We will be in a never ending war as long as our media does not do what it takes to de-sanitize the war, with respect to what we are seeing of it. Get used to it. They can't get us to stop and we can't get us to stop. When we finally realize that we created more enemies that we killed we will once again collectively decide (with our vote) that it just isn't worth it. That will neither make us cowards nor mean that we admit wrong though the loss of a certain personal, false pride will be too much for the mentally constipated to take.

Our national media has become a force for Orwellian doublespeak. The pablum they feed the typical non-thinking mind in front of a TV set is as mono-dimensional as the absurd reduction that "there are good guys and bad guys and the good guys always wear white hats." Words like "terrorist", "insurgents", and "freedom fighters" appear to have deep meaning and we all nod our heads as if we know just what these things mean. In cowboy movies this sort of childlike thinking is OK, but the real world is more complicated, fraught with bothersome shades of gray.

Want to know how to make an insurgent? Kill their loved one, intentionally or accidentally. It takes a little imagination to understand this...you have to forget that you are you for just a moment and ask "What would I do?"

To spare my much-appreciated friends and readers any further verbosity in this heroes section, I delegate to the crush of thoughts engendered by that last paragraph with a link.

The worst thing about it is that nobody bats an eye anymore, instead we eat it up. "Bush is a godly man and he wants to protect us", I keep hearing. "Why do these people keep saying bad things about OUR PRESIDENT?", some ask, without ever asking whether the reason might be because it is true. TRUTH is a rare commodity these days.

Even our national news is entertainment, molded more by the need to sell itself than any sort of human values.

Consider our basic ignorance of the world around us:
Since 1976 weekday newspaper readership has fallen from 77.6 to 54.1 % of adults 18 or over (See Link ). This statistic parallels others that suggest that more and more people are turning to TV for their news. That offers scant perspective to those, who are unable to escape the confines of their self-imposed knowledge prison, who succumb to scapegoating of the collective “they” by others who stand to gain from tidily packaging the jumble of fears that have been engendered in the post-911 world.

I can tell you this, as a nation we are most provincial, particularly in comparison to Europeans. Statistics vary, but passport ownership is one good barometer.

Once you subtract out travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and other nearby countries and consider that many passports are good for 5 or 10 years and may be used only once it is apparent that “they” understand much more about us than we do about “them”, and that’s not much either. This isn’t exactly the most effective climate for understanding how our actions as a nation might be perceived abroad, IS IT?.

Or maybe it's just not important how the vast majority of nations regard us. After all, "We're an empire", George Bush tells us. After all, theres no single nation whose butt we could not kick. Whew! Glad someone pointed that out, so I can sleep at night.

Bill Clinton said that he was preparing our nation for the day when we are no longer the worlds single dominant superpower. Sounds like a prudent savings plan to me rather than a cowardly admission. Ever seen a big dog play with a small dog? The larger one lays down and makes itself smaller so as not to scare the little dog, and pulls all its punches. Now maybe the dawg theory of international relations is not sound thoery but you probably catch my drift. We have a real choice of electing someone who will be conciliatory or someone who is like a mongrel dog -- snapping, snarling, and threatening at any little dog that does not do our bidding. When you are big dog you can afford to be a little magnanimous.

So what's the point?
Ah, yes. The point. There always is one, or at least there should be.

Is a hero someone we envy or someone we respect?

Christina Aguilera or Mother Theresa?

I must admit that Christina's hot, juicy little ass trumps Mother Theresa's leathery old tookus, any day of the week.

The Nobel for Christina, I say.

So, is it any small wonder that:


  • We elect a former cheerleader, a D+/C- student for president over a smart guy?

  • We are totally clueless as to how the rest of the world views us?

  • We just don't give a shit wheher the rest of the world respects us as long as they envy or fear us?

  • Most people's decision-making process is just a minor gene-sequence short of an amoeba's?

  • We are like a bus full of drunken idiots going full steam, the wrong way, down a one-way street into a big 16-wheeler?

Sorry, you probably are thinking, ooooo, he's no fun. I'm having a bad case of day-after-election-day-blues.

Anyway, back on track..the POINT...

Maybe some little wormy scientific nerd, a vertiable mental muscleman, would make a better hero for all of us than Arnold Schwarzenegger. I know, Terminator I really did have a profound influence on the lives of so many, even though III sucked.

Wow, what a unique concept...maybe the guy that invents somethng which overnight eliminates our dependence on foreign oil, if oil company hit-men don't assassinate him first, is the real hero.

That's all. That's where I was heading with all that. Many peoples heroes are who they'd want to screw or who emulating would get them laid or possibly envied, not those who would affect our lives in any appreciable or lasting way. Maybe that's too harsh so maybe it's just human nature to call someone merely recognized by all as a hero. Would that make Paris Hilton a hero?

Christina really does have a hot little ass though, doesn't she?

Upon reflection, I'm compelled to sing praise to those rare unique individuals in history, veritable Bodhisatvas, who saw with clarity the flawed humanity of us all and held up a mirror that relected back the monsters within -- Jesus and MLK to name a couple. But jeez, look what they got for their trouble. That speaks tons, doesn't it? Doesn't Jesus have any cool relatives left who'd be willing to have a little talk with Bush?

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