Monday, July 7, 2008

Presidents and Heroes

I looked for spiritual fruit and found religious nuts

Little separation between church and state: Much has been made of the religious faith of presidential candidates. Although our forefathers did their best to separate religion from politics religion is still very much at the forefront. When John Kennedy ran for office as the first Roman Catholic the opposition made many snide bumper sticker slogans including, “Elect the Pope – Eliminate the Middleman.” As enlightened as we’d like to think we’ve become in the 50 or so years since his election, the internet smears regarding Senator Obama’s religion have been so intense that a substantial percentage of the unwashed American public still believes his faith is Muslim. He has spoken many times about his Christian faith. Although religion should not matter, it does. Senator McCain professes to be Baptist via Episcopalian, the most popular choice of presidents. Eleven of our presidents claimed to be Episcopalian, 10 Presbyterian, 5 Methodist, 4 each Baptist and Unitarian, 3 Disciples of Christ, 2 each Reformed, Congregationalist, and Quaker, and one each Catholic, and Jehovah’s Witness. Presidents Jefferson, Lincoln, and Andrew Johnson were nondenominational.

Long shot is really no shot: Those sellers of lottery tickets come up with clever sayings like, “Take a chance. Columbus did.” But in some cases it seems the chances of winning the lottery were less than winning the big panda bear at a fixed carnival game. A professor in Virginia bought a five-buck lottery ticket that promised an ultimate payoff of 75 grand. But he felt anything but grand when he discovered that the hand that dealt the grand had been pre-determanned and he had been flim-flammed. Seems some wiener had picked a winner before the professor took a chance. This was not some 10 minute oversight. The biggie had been won a month previously! Barnum was right. There is one born every minute.

Breathing free air for first time in six years: The bad news is that they were often held in subhuman conditions. The good news is that they didn’t have to live through six years of the Bush-Cheney administration. The even better news is that they will probably become rich once the books are written and the movie comes out. Mike Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell were the Americans who had been held hostage in Columbia for six years and were dramatically rescued along with a dozen other hostages. In a recent interview Gonsalves was the most outspoken about the captors who have named their organization FARC. He stated, “They say they want equality… that is just a lie to justify their criminal activity.” It will be interesting to see how the publicity surrounding the daring rescue will have any impact on the terrorist kidnapping activity in Columbia.

What is a hero?: As Americans we are sometimes quick to heap praise on somebody who happened to be in the right spot at the right time, just doing their job. In my humble opinion if we bandy the word hero around too easily it loses some of its impact. A parallel example is the standing ovation that occurs at the end of nearly every live performance. Europeans are much more reserved about that sort of thing. They save ovations for truly outstanding performances. But we ovate at the drop of a curtain, just as our news media calls a fellow a hero for doing what is expected. The value has dropped but that does not mean heroes do not exist. Hanna Salwen is a hero. She’s 15 years old.

Her journey to heroism started when she saw a Mercedes stopped in traffic next to a homeless person and commented that the difference in cost between that car and a more humble one could buy many meals for the homeless. Her comment turned into family dinner conversation and she and her family agreed to put their $ 1,800,000 Atlanta house up for sale and donate the proceeds (about half the value) to charity, specifically the Hunger project. Hanna is a hero. So is her family.

A little blogging music Maestro... David Bowie’s “Heroes.”

Dr. Forgot
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