"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, February 4, 2011

Birthdays Today

The birthdays today reflect the truth of life that the people we think of as heroes often are not moral exemplars in their real lives. 

First, born in 1902, the flyer Charles Lindbergh, first man to cross the Atlantic solo.  It is hard today to recapture just how huge Lindbergh was in 1927.   But it is worth recalling too that Lindbergh was a key proponent of the America First movement that, had it prevailed, would have kept America out of World War II, and likely sacrificed Europe and England to the Nazis.   Lindbergh's anti-war stance also had not-so-vaguely anti-Semitic overtones; he claimed that "both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war."

It's also Lawrence Taylor's birthday.  Born in 1959 -- good gracious, he's exactly my age -- Taylor is probably one of the five greatest football players of all time (Jim Brown, Dick Butkus, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana and Taylor would be my five).   But he was also a cokehead and a serial abuser of women, and recently pled guilty to the misdemeanors of sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute for soliciting a 16 year-old.  He will also have to register as a sex offender.

I always tell my son that he should look up to his grandfather and father and uncles, and his coaches and teachers.... in other words, men who he knows personally.... and not worship idols from pop culture or sports from afar.  Too often they will disappoint.

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