Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Thieves of Glory

I suppose I have accepted the fact that it has become okay to brag, in modern society. I don’t like it, but it seems the guidelines of humbleness have disappeared. Athletes, actors and the common person in the street seem to have no compunction about saying, “I’m the best…” or “I’m great at…”  It’s probably a result of years of self-esteem programming in schools and on TV. I don’t like it, but I can’t change it.

I wonder, though, if we could try to stop this arrogance from extending into stealing the credit that is due to others. 

Father Mychal Judge: hero
-- victim 0001
I started thinking about this after the World Trade Center attacks. A few months after the dust literally settled, I started seeing bumper stickers that read things like: “Support Your Local Heroes of Station 4.” All of a sudden, one was a hero simply for being a firefighter.

Now, hold on…wait, wait… Before you get mad and start typing angry responses about the lack of respect I have for firefighters, let me say this: To become a firefighter is a noble choice born out of the desire to help others and out of the willingness to put one’s self in danger for others. I respect the career immensely.

But to compare one’s self to the guys who rushed up into the burning, crumbling twin towers on 9/11 is an abomination. To ride on the wave of supreme self-sacrifice that those men exhibited on that day is to steal their well-deserved glory.

To sort of re-sculpt the wisdom of Forrest Gump: “Heroes are as heroes do.”  One doesn't become a hero automatically upon becoming a firefighter any more than one is issued a perfunctory wisdom card upon turning fifty. The day one commits a heroic act, one becomes a hero. For firefighters, the opportunity is likely to present itself before long. But "the proof is in the pudding," as they say.

I bring this up because I recently saw an Internet meme, and various postings, that ask the reader to remember their kids’  teachers…"the protectors of your children"…"those willing to sacrifice for them."  This enrages me.

Again, we have members of a profession trying to steal the glory of supreme sacrifice that is owed to the individuals – the individuals – who died to protect the babies in their charge on that horrible day, last Friday.  Are we so groupthink-oriented that we really think we deserve credit for – or even association with -- the selfless acts of Victoria Soto and Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Scherlach?

(I'm not telling if you don't know.)
(Reminds me of my desire to carry a Sharpie and to revise bumper-stickers that say "Honor Teachers" to "Honor Good Teachers.")

Bragging is one thing. Stealing someone else’s fire is another. It needs to stop.

Once again, the individual is getting buried as we move into the future. Who invented the light bulb? Of course you know that. (Without Google.)

Who invented the cell phone? 

I rest my case.