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May 30, 2005


Western concepts of gods always require blind obedience to unsubstantiated demands and rewards. A hero forsakes self interest and does what is necessary for a great(er) good. The founding fathers of America were a minority of diests and most scientists who have and continue to improve the lot of mankind were/are atheists, a genuine minority. "God Doesn't Smile on Heros" is a very plausible commentary.

Sounds like Mr. Dilenschneider's book is timed just right for a society that sometimes seems to be fraying around the edges. His focus on important but pragmatic issues is what business leaders should be talking about in boardrooms and around espresso machines. My hopes would be that the book finds it way into business classes, as well as, informal discussion groups such as yours.

America will always need heroes, larger-than-life icons who inspire and challenge the rest of us to believe and dream that we, too, can aspire to greatness.

Most of the heroes I know didn't start out with that intent. In the course of living their business, political, military, or daily lives they stood at the crossroads of a difficult decision and, in spite of uncertainty or fear, summoned the courage needed to make that decision.

Or, perhaps they just lived their lives pressing on day-in/day-out with little regard to their own success. You see, heroes aren't necessarily those whose image graces the cover of Time magazine. They are often everyday, ordinary folk. My mother is such a one. She raised her three children almost single-handedly while running a small business, giving so little regard to her own well-being that it almost cost her her life on a couple of occasions.

On the other hand, we have become a nation of hero-worshippers, with pop icons being the demi-gods. Personally, I hold little regard for those of that ilk. Give me the working stiff anyday. The man or woman who goes out into the workforce earning a living to provide for his family, who selflessly contributes to her church and community, and who genuinely cares about those around her. Those are the heroes I admire. That is the kind of hero I hope to become.

Mr. Dilenschneider's "A Time For Heroes" sounds like an excellent read. Books on heroes and their actions are always needed, because each generation has its own challenges that the previous generation never imagined. Few people expected a Second World War; no one expected 9/11.

I hope we are lucky or blessed enough to be spared another terrorist act on our soil. Even if we are, the current economic challenges to the United States from countries like China may lead to new political challenges, and, then, perhaps, to another great need for heroes. (An article in the June issue of "The Atlantic" is good background on what the military is doing to prepare for this.)

By analyzing heroism, Mr. Dilenschneider's book may inspire some of those future heroes to do the right, but difficult, thing at a time when the nation needs them most. Thanks, Jane, for bringing the book to our attention.

I thought of U.S. Senator John McCain as I read, "God Doesn't Smile on Heroes." Having read his book, "Why Courage Matters," a collection of stories about people Sen. McCain turns to for inspiration, and having followed his life and career so closely, I look forward to reading Mr. Dilenschneider's, "A Time For Heroes." The title says it all for me -- and having followed his counselling career, I know he will do it justice.
Thanks, Jane, for including this review in your blog.

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