Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How lucky was the man who shot Bin Laden?

Do you believe in "luck?"

Is being lucky nothing more than a kiss on the cheek by the cosmic breeze of fortune, an act of blind, random chance?

Or, do you believe that we contribute to our own lucky ways, that we position ourselves, through our choices and decisions, for outcomes which may be perceived by others as simply lucky?

Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon's surface and into history on July 20, 1969. He was pegged to be first based upon his calm demeanor, his exemplary piloting skills...and his status as a civilian. Bowing to pressure to ease American-Soviet relations at the close of a tumultuous decade, NASA  penciled in Armstrong as a gesture of non-militaristic goodwill.

Was Neil Armstrong lucky?

Although Morris Jeppson had worked for months on the electronic fusing of the atomic bomb which would detonate over Hiroshima, he was chosen as a member of the Enola Gay's thirteen-man crew over a coin flip, thereby punching his timecard in history.

Was Morris Jeppson lucky?

And now, somewhere this morning, whether on a ship or military base or at home with his family, a man has awakened, risen out of bed and looked into a mirror. As he shaves for the day ahead, he pauses. His hand drops to the sink, clanging the metal razor on the clean porcelain.

He leans forward and stares into his half-shaved face.

 "I'm the one.

I put a bullet in him.

I ended the life of Earth's most wanted criminal.

I killed Osama Bin Laden."

Lucky?

Our politicians are notorious for embellishing or even fabricating acts of valor to further their station among the public. Their exploitations of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch have jaded Americans to the point where we'll withhold our judgment until we can compile the facts for six months to a year. Only then will many of us decide whether or not to brush aside our cynicism.

And such a difficult exercise that is, when we occupy a society which thirsts for heroes. We manufacture American Idols and Biggest Losers because we love these stories and we can believe in the people. It's right there in front of us; no spin, no backtracking, no double talk.

And now, more than ever, America wants her hero, front and center.

I dearly  hope, in this age of Twitter, TMZ and Wikileaks, that this Navy SEAL's name never bubbles to the surface. If it does, this man's life will irrevocably, profoundly, change.

Sure, he'll never have to buy another drink; he'll be wined and dined and prodded and poked and thrown so far out of his realm, he'll wonder what his life was like when he was "nothing more" than a courageous soldier.

Lucky?

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