Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Heroes don't play for fame and fortune

A hero is someone who does the right thing, despite the personal costs.
The Cost of Doing Your Duty - New York Times

... In 2003, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift was assigned to represent Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni citizen accused of being a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda — for the sole purpose of getting him to plead guilty before one of the military commissions that President Bush created for Guantanamo Bay. Instead of carrying out this morally repugnant task, Commander Swift concluded that the commissions were unconstitutional. He did his duty and defended his client. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in June that the tribunals violated American law as well as the Geneva Conventions.

The Navy responded by killing his military career. About two weeks after the historic high court victory in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Commander Swift was told he was being denied a promotion. Under the Navy’s up-or-out system, that spelled the end of his 20-year career, and Commander Swift said last week that he will be retiring in March or April....
We call a man a hero when he falls on a grenade. Charles Swift didn't pay for his convictions with his life, but he paid for them with his career. For some people, that would come close to a major injury. He's a hero.

Note to the naive: when you're a true hero, you routinely pay a high price. If you're a theist you may expect a future reward (or not, depending on the mood of the deity), if you're not a theist then heroism is usually perverse and illogical.

Not all of the irrational behaviors of humans are despicable. Some are admirable. To the perverse, anyway.

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