Monthly Archives: September 2011

Sure, We Know What Makes a Man, But What Can You Do About It?

Spies who don’t brag.

Players who don’t kiss and tell.

These are the fabric that make up our world of winners.

Anachronisms. People who matter. Those who follow the rules, not the nancypants playtime discussions of what we learned in school, whether you go to a strip club on someone’s bachelor(ette) party or not, whether you hold the door open for a little old lady. Let’s talk about the rules of the game, the rules of engagement, the rules of war. Remember all’s fair in love and war?

Bobby Green, Jr., was a guy living in Los Angeles when the 1992 riots erupted in the days after the Rodney King verdict was announced. He woke up that morning in a culture of violence, and like it didn’t matter to him, he found himself watching on television, on CNN no less, as down the street, an intersection he knew was on-camera. People were burning cars. Guys were hitting other guys with baseball bats. Somewhere in the distance, there were gunshots. Then, on TV, Bobby saw some white bread truck driver pulled from the cab of his rig. He saw, live on CNN, someone hitting the trucker, a guy it turns out was named Reginald Denny, with a cinder block. You know, a 40+ pound block made of concrete? They were hitting him with one. In the head. Bobby follows the rules. This doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t. He left the safety of his house and went down the street, in the chaos and the mayhem, raced to the corner and intervened. Stopped the madness. Took Reginald to the hospital. Because that’s what you do.

Captain Chesley Sullenberger the Third is a regular hero. He’s the pilot who got up on January 15, 2009, days before the Obama inauguration, the country still reeling from the financial meltdown, unsure of his pension, his paycheck, his future, but secure in the sense that he follows procedure and work gets done. This isn’t a Captain in the sense that he is in charge of the airplane when it’s in the air, and some flight attendant does a sloppy salute and calls him “Skipper”. This is a Captain who graduated from the US Air Force Academy when planes were dogfighting over Viet Nam. This is a Captain who flew F4 Phantoms and followed procedure, no matter how hot the spot got. He launched his US Airways passenger flight from La Guardia airport and didn’t wet his pants when an engine blew out, when the plane dropped in a way he later described as “the worst sickening, pit-of-your-stomach, falling-through-the-floor feeling,” it didn’t stop him from following the rules. He realized the plane wouldn’t make it to a runway in time, and he was over the planet’s most populous city. He did it right. He ditched the plane in the Hudson River and miraculously, everyone lived. Even the little children.

Narces Benoit is a story we are only just learning. The video speaks for itself, and the reality is something that will eke its way out in the trials to come. The man saw some loco gunfight happening in front of him in Miami, and it doesn’t matter if the police were justified to shoot a man. You already learned right from wrong and you know no one in America, not one person in the United States, has the right to hide the truth. So when the cops murder someone directly in front of you, and you capture the video on camera…. You are doing what is right. But when the cops point the gun at you, and demand you give up the footage? When the patrolmen take away everyone’s cell phones and stomp on them like a gang from some 1980s sci-fi movie, you already know the rules are blurring. Narces sat through an arrest. He sat through questioning. He had a policeman’s handgun pointed in his face. Through the whole of it, he had his SD memory card in his mouth to keep the truth safe from the machine. Was he rattled? Probably. Did he give up the chip; spit it out so they could crunch it like a mobile phone under a government-issue boot? No. Because them’s the rules.

Why are these men the triumvirate of heroes? Because each of these guys, they didn’t have to question right from wrong. They know the rules. They follow the rules. You know it too.

The reason you lump these three men together is simple.

It’s got nothing to do with honor; it’s got nothing to do with respect. They have that. They earned it, or maybe they always had it and by their actions they demonstrated the right. You put them in one group not because they are who you aim to be. You put them together because if you are ever, and I mean ever, in a bar, and any of them are in a bar with you? They don’t pay for shit. It’s not a medal, it’s not a salary. It’s not something they can take to the bank. But you know it’s right. You can feel these heroes are worthy, and you follow the rules. You pick up their check.

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