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What are stars?
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DD    Posted 07-20-2004 at 23:49:04       [Reply]  [No Email]
For many years Ben Stein has written a biweekly column for the on-line web site called "Monday Night At Morton's", from that famous restaurant
which was often frequented by Hollywood Stars. Now, Ben is terminating the column to move on to other things in his life. Reading his final column to our military is worth a few minutes of your time because it praises the most unselfish among us; our military personnel, others who protect us daily and portrays a
valuable lesson learned in his life.

Ben Stein's Last Column...

How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World? As I begin to write this, I "slug" it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is
"eonlineFINAL," and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end. It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's change have overtaken it.

On a small scale, Morton's, while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in
droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was
a super movie. But Morton's is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.

Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who
makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.

How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their
nails. They can be interesting, nice people, but
they are not heroes to me any longer.

A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and
the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world. A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him.. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in
Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad.

The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists. We put
couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines.

The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject. There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament....the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive. The orderlies and
paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery, the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children, the kind men and women who work in hospices and in
cancer wards. Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse.

Now you have my idea of a real hero. We are not responsible for the operation of the universe, and what happens to us is not terribly important.

God is real, not a fiction, and when we turn over our lives to Him, he takes far better care of us than we could ever do for ourselves. In a word, we make ourselves sane when we fire ourselves as the directors of the movie of our lives and turn the power over to Him.

I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin....or Martin Mull or Fred Willard - or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them. But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years.
I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.

This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human.

By Ben Stein

Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.

Burrhead    Posted 07-21-2004 at 11:18:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
glad to see you DD.

That's a good thread.

Patria    Posted 07-21-2004 at 09:25:23       [Reply]  [No Email]
DD..good to see you girl..we miss your inputs here..don't make yourself soooo scarce, eh?
Take Care

Dee in mid MO    Posted 07-21-2004 at 08:50:16       [Reply]  [No Email]
In many ways, this world is so lopsided. The real heroes in life rarely are heard about. Re: Hollywood veneer etc., seems to be all about media & ratings & $$$/$$$/$$$. I personally appreciate hearing & seeing profiles of our men & women committed to service, and say a prayer for them all the time. Don't you think the patriotic citizens of this fabulous country would appreciate the media profiling more of our unsung heroes: the honorable servicefolks? Dee

New-Gen    Posted 07-21-2004 at 07:28:04       [Reply]  [No Email]
Good reading. Thanks for sharing it.

KellyGa    Posted 07-21-2004 at 06:09:52       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hey DD, that was definitely worth reading. Ian and I love Ben Stein. He is a wise man. I am going to keep that if you don't mind. That was a really good post to start your return. ;)

Alias    Posted 07-21-2004 at 04:44:25       [Reply]  [No Email]
The article was fine but what is finer was seeing double "D's" after the post.

Don't be a stranger, we miss you and want you to come on back and delight us with your offerings.

Maggie/TX    Posted 07-20-2004 at 23:56:49       [Reply]  [No Email]
That was absolutely excellent, DD. Thank you!

Will    Posted 07-20-2004 at 23:56:43       [Reply]  [No Email]
Go back to lurking now but just wanted to share this with ya'll : ) Take Care Everybody! Know that my prayers and well wishes are with all who post here on the boards : )

Steve from TN    Posted 07-21-2004 at 03:39:39       [Reply]  [No Email]
Nice article. I agree. Ben's da man. Good to see you.

Steve.....who lurks most of the time.

Les    Posted 07-21-2004 at 03:15:16       [Reply]  [No Email]
All of us?

Yes Les....    Posted 07-21-2004 at 09:37:13       [Reply]  [No Email]
That "all" included EVERYONE from the KL board and from Tractor Tales too, past and present : )

Clod    Posted 07-21-2004 at 04:07:16       [Reply]  [No Email]
Didnt read much..Going to work.WElcome back DD/

Salmoneye    Posted 07-21-2004 at 04:31:59       [Reply]  [No Email]
It is worth the read Clod...

seahag    Posted 07-21-2004 at 16:34:03       [Reply]  [Send Email]
What a wonderful article. This made my day, my son is serving overseas and is supposed to be home in September. I think of him every day. During our local 4th of July parades when the gentlemen from the military passed I stood and clapped until my hands were sore. My grandchildren asked me why do you stand when those men come by and when the flag comes by? I turned to them and said Without those men and women we could be all speaking German or saluting another flag without those men and women we could all be living under a dictator. Those people went away to make you able to ride your bikes and swim in the lake and lay you head on grandmas lap without a worry about tomorrow.
Remember where your uncle is..and think of him when you see the flag.
God Bless those angels when they turned to me and said Grandma which hand do I put over my heart.

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