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"Pain is merely weakness leaving the body." - Ldpende

Some Heroes

  • Date Submitted: 09/07/2012 10:50 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 73.9 
  • Words: 2682
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There are some topics I save up because they'll be so much fun to write about. This is one of them: a list of my heroes.

I'm not claiming this is a list of the n most admirable people. Who could make such a list, even if they wanted to?

Einstein isn't on the list, for example, even though he probably deserves to be on any shortlist of admirable people. I once asked a physicist friend if Einstein was really as smart as his fame implies, and she said that yes, he was. So why isn't he on the list? Because I had to ask. This is a list of people who've influenced me, not people who would have if I understood their work.

My test was to think of someone and ask "is this person my hero?" It often returned surprising answers. For example, it returned false for Montaigne, who was arguably the inventor of the essay. Why? When I thought about what it meant to call someone a hero, it meant I'd decide what to do by asking what they'd do in the same situation. That's a stricter standard than admiration.

After I made the list, I looked to see if there was a pattern, and there was, a very clear one. Everyone on the list had two qualities: they cared almost excessively about their work, and they were absolutely honest. By honest I don't mean trustworthy so much as that they never pander: they never say or do something because that's what the audience wants. They are all fundamentally subversive for this reason, though they conceal it to varying degrees.

Jack Lambert

I grew up in Pittsburgh in the 1970s. Unless you were there it's hard to imagine how that town felt about the Steelers. Locally, all the news was bad. The steel industry was dying. But the Steelers were the best team in football—and moreover, in a way that seemed to reflect the personality of the city. They didn't do anything fancy. They just got the job done.

Other players were more famous: Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann. But they played offense, and you always get more attention for...

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