Real Deal

I am so jaded and so excited by scandal that my eyebrows would barely rise to learn that Santa had a few women on the side, besides Mrs. Claus.

And yet I am so titillated to look into some famous person’s underwear drawer to find a journal espousing sexual escapades with llamas.

So, excuse me if I am a bit pessimistic in believing that people are never what they seem. We are a culture that thrives on scandal because it is easy to build ourselves up by taking other people down. And turning over rocks to expose weaknesses makes us seem a bit closer to those same famous people.

But there are a few world class people whose accomplishments are so great and whose character has been so steady, that they probably were and are exactly what they seemed. And even if there were skeletons, they could not debase their accomplishments.

An example is Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights leader who died on July 17 and was later eulogized by three-quarters of humanity. For much of his 80 years, Lewis embodied commitment, compassion and bravery. I do believe that what you saw in John Lewis was what you got. He proved it through a long steady life that was paved in blood.

Not many famous people are in the same category as John Lewis, people who if you look up to long enough you will get dizzy.

Others on that revered mountaintop surely include the martyred Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who persevered to his death, despite J. Edgar Hoover’s best efforts to smear his name. Jimmy Carter is another giant who has shown a lifetime of unbroken commitment to peace and to universally accepted values and to most likely be the best ex-president we’ve ever had.

I’m sure there are many, many others among the famous who are equally righteous. And so are there many, many among the not-famous who live their lives quietly but just as bravely and just as true to their word.

Everyone knows them. They are your neighbors and friends. It is the firefighter who actually did race into an inferno to rescue a child, knowing that he could very well burn to death in the process.

And the police officer who could not wait for backup and instead barged into a home to disarm a man who was threatening to kill his mother with a knife. The officer could have just as certainly broken through to be looking down the barrel of a shotgun for the last things he saw in life.

It is the first aid volunteer who responded to a call of a man who had suffered a heart attack and entered the home not knowing if he was placing himself in harm’s way to help someone with COVID 19.

And the soldier who stood his ground and maintained his focus amid the thunder of enemy fire, knowing that his fate could suddenly be sealed forever without ever getting home to see his children again.

It is the mother and father who spend day after relentless day at the hospital bedside of a child, offering constant hope and love and never wavering for a moment or showing the terrible, irrepressible fear they had of possibly losing their child.

It is the man and woman who served in the Peace Corps in Nigeria and later lived lives of self-sacrifice with no tangible rewards but only internal gratification.

And it is the man or woman who is honorable and trusting and goes about his or her daily life simply trying to live up to a code of ethics, without fanfare and without publicity, and offering to help even when it may seem inconvenient or worse.




Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer

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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer

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