Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hero ALERT: I'm Going to See Al Gore Today

Heroes are in short supply these days...or maybe it just seems that way. The media rewards bad behavior by splashing it all over Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, Extra, and the net. The quiet, non-dramatic sort of good guys don’t get as much attention. It’s curious that doing good isn’t seen as being as sexy as going off the rails. I mean, really, from a purely evolutionary standpoint, it is curious: wouldn’t you think we’d evolve to be attracted to good, healthy behavior? I’ll have to ponder that one in my peppermint mind sometime after I have at least one cup of kukicha green and peppermint tea, and/or some protein. For now, it’s too early and pre-tea-n-protein in the morning, so I’ll move right along.

I have a few heroes in this world, two of whom are dead: Martin Luther King, Jr. is a major hero of mine, and so is someone he modeled his creative, non-violent resistance approach after, Mahatma Gandhi. A third hero of mine is very much alive, and I am going to see him tonight at a political rally: Al Gore. Now, I know that, for many on the right, he is the butt of jokes, mostly based on erroneous disinformation and urban myths. He NEVER, for example, claimed that he invented the internet. Look it up on Snopes, I don’t have the time or inclination to debunk all the hurtful bunk that is out there on Al Gore. I find it interesting just how vitriolic the right is towards the very mention of his name. I think it is because he speaks the truth in a civil, respectful, eloquent way, no matter how much they attack him, and he never lets the attacks bring him down to their level. He remains, always, what I just said: eloquent, respectful and civil. This is one aspect of what I admire most about him:  in a world desperately starved for civility and respectfulness, he embodies it. The other aspect I admire so much, which goes hand in hand with his character, is his actions.

As I recall, Al Gore first came onto my radar screen back in 1988, when I was a young voter. He was in a field of presidential hopefuls that was crowded with quality and potential: Joe Biden, Dick Gephardt and Paul Simon, just to name the ones that I thought were excellent in addition to Al Gore (Jesse Jackson impressed me, too, but also scared me because I felt he was anti-Israel...but I digress). Even in that crowded field, though, Al Gore stood way out from the rest to me. I’m a total policy wonk and his positions on the issues exactly jibed with my own, as did his priorities, plus his aforementioned eloquence really stood out. In the years since 1988, I have grown to admire the man more and more for all the things I’ve mentioned--his positions and priorities on the issues I care about, and his civility, respectfulness and eloquence--plus his great leadership, vision, imagination, intelligence, honesty, knowledge, patriotism (how he conducted himself in the 2000 election horror show, for example, always keeping what was best for the country and the rule of law as a priority), diplomacy, integrity, steadfast commitment and adherence to speaking the truth, and tireless passion for the environment.  He also has demonstrated an amazing ability to, as the cliche goes, take the lemons that life hands out and make lemonade.  After the heartbreaking and soul-crushing election of 2000, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and went on to do great things as private citizen Gore.  The awareness, education and sense of urgency that he has brought to the world about global climate change is profoundly impressive and important.  He has also provided us with concrete ideas on how to turn back from the brink of disaster and build a green, sustainable future that respects our mother earth.

Ever since the days (and no doubt before) when people didn’t want to hear that the earth was round and not flat, a majority of people always fear and, unfortunately, sometimes hate, the visionary, inconvenient-truth-telling leaders among us. But the ones who are truly great go on telling the truth despite all the fearful backlash that engenders, because they care passionately about doing the right thing, they are bright enough to see what that is, and they are brave enough to endure whatever comes their way in order to do it. This is why I love Al Gore and why he is, corny as this probably sounds, my hero.

He is sounding the warning on global climate change and the world needs to hear that and act on it now. This evening, he will be at a political rally for Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, here in Florida, and I will be braving driving in Tampa (!) to be there. I’ve seen him at a brief rally at the Sarasota airport in 2000 and that was a thrill. All of a sudden, Air Force Two appeared in the sky, made a brilliant landing as we all cheered wildly, and out popped Vice President Gore!  He gave a short but stirring speech to us, the party faithful, and then I forget if he got right back onto Air Force Two and flew off or got into a waiting car or what, but I didn’t get to actually meet him and I probably won’t this evening, either, which is probably just as well, as I am sure I’d be a complete and utter deer caught in headlights if it happened. That said, though, it would be a thrill to shake his hand. To meet a living hero up close and personal would be a very special thing. Perhaps it will happen tonight...or perhaps I’ll get lost in Tampa, never to resurface again. Most likely, though, I’ll just hear him speak live and rally the Democratic troops, and that will be exciting enough. I’ll love to tell him how much I admire his character and everything he’s done and continues to do for our country and the earth, both of which need as much help as they can get. I’d love to simply say, thank you, you are great, keep up the good work. That’s what heroes do: they keep up the good work. I just want to tell him I appreciate it. He’ll probably glean that from the WILD APPLAUSE AND SCREAMING I’ll be engaging in at various points in the going.

Releated link:  LA Times article, re: Gore to appear at Kendrick Meek rally

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