HEROES AND VICTIMS
Dewey has written some 40 books of fiction and nonfiction, as
well as contributed scores of stories to magazines and other periodicals.
He has also had some 30 plays staged in Europe and the United
States. Dewey was editor of the ASME-award winning magazine Attenzione
and was editorial director of the East-West Network, overseeing
a dozen in-flight magazines and the PBS organ Dial. Don's
latest book, Franchisement:
The Alan Gibb Story, is now available.
time, New York and other cities have marked seven o'clock in the
evening by letting loose from windows and doorways with blaring
radios, banged skillets, whistles and bells to salute the doctors,
nurses, EMT drivers and other hospital personnel risking their
lives as first responders for dealing with pandemic patients.
As assigned staff or as volunteers, and all working murderous
overtime schedules, the medical people have been honoured by fellow
citizens as heroes. In gaining that tribute through improvised
street symphonies, the first responders have also given new life
to the notion of a hero after years in which the concept had been
diluted to encompass just about anyone who crossed a street safely.
one form or another, heroes have been with us since Gilgamesh
and Achilles. At their most virile, they have been military warriors
who not only dispatched untold numbers of enemies but preened
over their achievements to adoring followers.
culture spawned its heroic legend and, centuries later, the logo
for some commercial product attesting to it. However crassly a
legendary figure's exploits were eventually reduced to supermarket
wares, there persisted the cognition that he or she had acquitted
an extraordinary feat that, usually at the peril of death, brought
more good than bad to people. The hero might not have always been
of mythic stature, but his or her deed surpassed the merely laudable,
let alone the expected.
States heroes have always been a curious collection. Stick a microphone
in front of somebody's mouth, and the name that will come out
more than others is sure to be Abraham Lincoln (at least outside
the South, where he is more likely compared to Lucifer). Whether
history or Hollywood, Lincoln has lapped the field for decades,
and while seldom imagined as getting out from behind his White
House desk or debating lectern. As heroes go, he may be the world's
most sedentary, entrusting his glow to the perfectly timed, pithy
Abraham Lincoln as hero is also a reminder of how costly such
an acknowledgment can be -- in his case ‘preserving the
Union’ over tens of thousands of bodies, not to mention
as a prelude to Jim Crow practices and racist attitudes that were
still searing America in 2020. His inability to close the deal
has hardly been an exception. Also in the nineteenth century,
for instance, stories and ballads were all but copyrighted for
future generations around the likes of Davey Crockett, Robert
E. Lee and George Custer. As the resident expert on the topic
presently in the White House would point out -- losers all.
event produced more instant heroes than the 9/11 attacks on the
World Trade Center. The trouble is, most of them were not heroes.
The designation as such of the thousands of people killed in the
assault, many forced to jump to their deaths from sky scraper
heights, has been fodder for triumphantly patriotic speeches but,
loathe as we appear to be to admit it in a fantasy macho world,
the dead were victims and not heroes.
the first responders who slogged through the ruins of the towers
for days, weeks, and even months in a quest for survivors do not
fit the description of the classic hero who is fully conscious
of a surrounding danger. Brave they surely were. But thanks to
city and Federal powers that decided not to go into too much detail
about the poisonous gasses circulating in downtown Manhattan,
the majority of policemen, firemen and other excavators of the
dead did not realize how much they were risking before they started
falling a short time later from pulmonary diseases and various
cancers. If most had truly heroic moments, it was when they had
to deal with their fatal ailments while also tolerating municipal
health officials and congressmen who refused to acknowledge that
they might have developed their tumours trudging through the Twin
Towers without masks or other necessary protection. That they
had to carry on these fights while literally losing their breath,
right up to their deaths against the bureaucracies defined heroism
against the worst kind of sordidness.
most inflated reputation for heroism to emerge from the Twin Towers
carnage was that of Rudolph Giuliani, who as mayor was at best
merely doing his job in the aftermath and at worst was anxious
to make everyone forget that he had insisted against choral advice
not to put the NYPD communications center in one of the first
floors to be destroyed in the attack. Achilles had the Iliad,
Giuliani was thereafter, as one critic noted, incapable of forming
a sentence "without a noun, a verb, and 9/11."
self-congratulatory has hardly been limited to America, and it
has sometimes had help from premature readings of character. A
conspicuous example was that of Aung San Suu Kyi, who finished
at the top of international polls regularly as a paradigm of planetary
heroism for long years of house arrest for opposing the military
junta in Myanmar; she was even given the Nobel Peace Prize for
her valour. But then she was released, took over the Burmese government,
and continued to abet the military's genocide against the Rohingya
course, not even this kind of embarrassment will end the quest
for heroes. Thor and his friends at the local multiplex tells
us that. But maybe one of the most important distinctions marking
the heroism of the medical people dealing with the pandemic is
that they know from the start that -- more than some prearranged
destiny -- victims are the enemy.
by Donald Dewey:
Playing It Safe
Not to Live By
to the Rescue
Playing It Safe
Them Entertain Us
a Kindergarten Life
of Humour in the Cinema
THE ALAN GIBB STORY by DON DEWEY
becoming the world's most respected life, death, and everything
in between coach, Alan Gibb shared that common frustration over
the failure of astrology, numerology, and similar religions
to direct all aspects of human behavior. They might have all
been sacred systems for establishing a personal identity, but
there was a rusty screw at their core. Even when the revolutionary
tenets of Franchisement occurred to him, he knew they might
remain stillborn without the attacks, arrests, and tragedies
customarily accompanying an original vision. Happily for Gibb
and the tens of thousands of his fellow believers, he was assaulted
in physical, mental, and dietary ways and hauled in as a fraud,
thug, and stalker even as he pressed forward on his crusade
to share Franchisement with the hordes crying for it as a national
pastime superior to baseball. More happily, the tragedies struck
others, not him, enabling him to enjoy the millions Franchisement
brought through the Internet, the telephone, and pay-on-demand
cable. As he noted repeatedly, the delivery vehicle was unimportant
as long as a customer thought he wanted what he was getting.
"If you listen to people, the world is divided between
the Yankees and the Red Sox," he liked to chuckle fondly.
"Tell that to those with a crush on the Minnesota Twins.
A vision that isn't comprehensive sees only its own nose."
OTHERS ARE SAYING:
there are many similar books too numerous to count, but this
book is sui generis." --- Benjamin Acocella, S.J., President
of the Council for Mental Observances.
book changed my life when it most needed changing." ---
Sidney Willinger, Leisure Sciences Department, University of
love is a 13-letter word." --- Jennifer Pryor, Harvard
School of Theoretical Business.
demonstrates how life is more than steak knives and storm windows."
--- Joel Sternheim, Informercials Institute.
Trade Paperback - 6 x 9 x .7
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