At the end of a five-week long, and quite exhausting, business/family matters trip, I found myself watching TV in my hotel room in San Mateo, California, last Wednesday evening. Now then, sports is about the only thing I watch on TV, but during a commercial break in a really boring college football game, I stumbled upon Anderson Cooper interviewing Michael J. Fox on CNN. And I was transfixed. What struck me about Fox, apart from his obvious intelligence, passion, and wit (and of course the dyskinesia–he was swaying all over the place), was the absence of anger and vituperation. This was, you may recall, only about a week after Fox had been ridiculed by Rush Limbaugh for having Parkinson’s Disease, and interrogated by Katie Couric as to whether he was “overdoing it” for political effect. Cooper tried and failed to get a rise out of Fox; the man was clearly too focused on getting his message out to waste any time on animosity or indignation. Everything he said was positive and forward looking, even as he refuted bogus arguments of his opponents and detractors. I can’t remember Fox’s exact words, but I do remember him talking about the significance of “our franchise”, that is, our right to vote. A more stirring evocation of what we’re supposed to be all about you could hardly find. As he spoke about what our nation could and should be, I sat there thinking, “This is what a courageous patriot looks like.” I’ll tell you, I had tears coming down my face, I did. And I resolved to see if I could learn a thing or two from him about turning down the vitueration. (Which is why you have not seen me post anything yet on Ted Haggard. . .I’m thinking. . .)
Now, on the other side of the world one of my favorite writers has come back online — heartening to her fans, who feared the worst. I speak of Riverbend, of the blog Baghdad Burning. Now, when Riverbend writes, there is no check on her vituperation, nor should there be. Anyway, here’s her latest entry. Read to the last paragraph, and then, if you’re elegible to vote & have not yet done so, please go exercise that franchise. That’s what I’m going to do. Hope to see you at the polls.
It is often harder to do good – to be at your absolute best — when it really matters. It’s easier to be charming when it’s a throw-away.
It says a lot about Fox’s character that he was able to shine under circumstances that were clearly so imporant to him — and to us.