Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cause for Hope

News reports make it sound likely that Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) will survive and likely recover--perhaps completely--from the effects of the intra-cranial bleeding that he suffered yesterday.

I confess that when I heard the news that the Senator had been taken ill, one of my first thoughts was for the political implications of the development. I know many of my friends feel the same way. Let's remember, however, that we are talking about a human being and that his illness is a private crisis as well as a public incident.

Capt. Tom Phillip, who was captain of the battleship Oregon at the battle of Santiago Bay, during the Spanish American War. When the ship's batteries set one of the Spanish ships afire, the American sailors exulted. Capt. Phillip called out, "Don't cheer boys, the poor devils are dying." I try to remember the simple humanity of Capt. Phillip when I realize that I am thinking of people as playing roles and not as human beings.

(Update: the last paragraph of this post was written from memory. Feeling a bit unsure, I went back and checked and found a couple of errors: The Captain's name was J.W. Phillip, and the ship was the Texas, not the Oregon. My apologies.)

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