Monthly Archives: January 2013

Common Roots: Yellow Jerseys and Assualt Weapons

Is anyone else tired of Lance Armstrong’s pitiful attempt to redeem himself by ‘fessing up? Let’s have done with it. He is a blatant liar and con-man. Along with all the other ‘athletes’ who have relied on chemical and biological products to enhance their abilities and surpass the normally-abled, he should be relegated to the audience and join the rest of us in the cheap seats. Maybe by observing, he can learn to admire dedication and dogged physical training. He and his performance enhancing tribe are phonies – period.

We so much want heroes. We want individuals who exemplify true accomplishment whether in pole vaulting or poetry. We want those who stand out as statesmen (-women) or skaters. But we are left with few or none to whom we can look up as examples to follow. We have what we get when we fall to our knees in worship of celebrities, whether in sports arenas, singing into microphones or on stage or silver screen. Beginning with the jittery images of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplain, we have fawned over celebrity. What we have are the products of publicity and not persons of moral or ethical principles or physical prowess. We have allowed publicists to define for us whom we should admire and emulate. Celebrities stand for nothing, rather they stand hidden behind their public image, which is artificially created.

A word popular in English at the beginning of the 17th century but today found only in the arcane vocabulary of anthropology may hold a clue to our problem. We put such a premium on individuality that we have sacrificed its counterpoint. Dividuality, our having a commonness, a social fabric, a part in the larger whole, is a forgotten word and a neglected, even abandoned, reality.

Our failure to acknowledge the whole of which we are but a part has silly as well as serious consequences. What is sillier than our not being able even to laud a team effort without having to find a MVP. And what could be more serious than our individual right to carry a weapon obliterating our dividual responsibility to protect the vulnerable.

Lance Armstrong and the furor over gun possession are the image we inevitably see reflected when we gaze into a culture that has lost its corporate soul.


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