A lot of things have gotten worse since 2002. This blog is probably one of them.
This is from January 21, 2011. Back then, mass-shooting were still shocking and heart-breaking. “The terror of knowing what this world is about“:
The confluence of that song and that story somehow combined to catch me off-guard and knock me sideways in a way that I’ll attempt, and likely fail, to convey here.
Here’s part of that Arizona Republic article, describing security camera video showing the deadly Jan. 8 assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the parking lot of a Tucson, Ariz., shopping center: “Surveillance footage of the Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson showed that [John Roll] used his body as a shield to cover the wounded Ron Barber. Roll then took a bullet to the back and lost his life in the process. …”
Mistermix of Balloon Juice is right in saying that this describes the act of “a real, non-Galtian hero” and presents “a hell of a contrast to the crass, materialistic notion of heroism that’s gaining currency.”
“Galtian” there refers to John Galt, the fictional “hero” of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the embodiment of what Rand elsewhere calls “The Virtue of Selfishness.” That oxymoron — virtuous selfishness — is the core of Rand’s philosophy and ethics, or rather, more accurately, of the thing Rand offers in place of either philosophy or ethics. Her ideal character, Galt, turned away from it all like a blind man.
That’s always an option — choosing selfishness and pretending it’s virtue. But it don’t work. It’s not a satisfying alternative.
The other option — the opposite of Rand’s emaciated, deformed notion of humanity — is one centered around the essential importance of love. That’s such an old-fashioned word, Freddie Mercury said, apologizing for the embarrassing earnestness of the sentiment before howling that word over and over as the inescapable and only satisfactory answer to why, why, why?
And that answer, that slashed-and-torn, most excellent answer, was the one Judge Roll came up with under pressure. No one has greater love than this.
But is any of this conveying what it was that had me so gobsmacked this morning reading this story while hearing this song? Have I said anything I started out to say about what their coincidence helped me to remember and what that means?