Rethinking Heroes

I may have previously identified the four heroes in my life in this blog. The first was Jackie Stewart, race car driver. The second was Niel Armstrong. The third was Elon Musk, and lastly Donald Trump.

As a child us little boys would watch the F1 races on ABC’s Wild World of Sports. It was a thing back then. For whatever reason I picked Jackie Stewart as my favorite driver. My frinds picked other drivers. It gave us something to talk about. Many of my friends heroes died. Racing was very dangerous back then. Amazingly Jackie Stewart is still going strong. I saw him on TV a couple of days ago giving commentary on the current crop of F1 drivers. Jackie is a true hero, a very aspirational figure.

Neil Armstrong is a hero for the ages. The first person to step on the moon. I realize that Niel Armstrong was just a single person in a massive effort. It was not his plan, he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Yet Niel was truly talented, and calm under pressure. Very few people would have his capabilities. He would say he was just doing his job, and in a way he was. After he retired from NASA he became rather reclusive. In a way I do not blame him. Really, how much can you really say about being the first to make a footprint, even if it was on the moon. Still, he could have been a great pulpit for science. Do heroes really need to be visible.

Next up is Donald Trump. I was aware of his early days in New York. I really did not pay attention to him, yet I was impressed by his collection of golf courses. Not that I ever came close to playing on one. There is one reason he became my hero. Sometimes my friends would complain about the government, I would reply “You have a billion bucks?” They would say no or something and I would reply “Unless you got a billion bucks or so there is nothing you can do about it. So forget about it.” Yup in my view the government was a corrupt system unworthy of discussion. Then came Donald Trump with a billion or two. He was going to fix the system. Well unfortunately he did not. The system fixed him. I don’t blame him for trying, then very unfortunately he became just another politician. I also learned how absolutely corrupt and big the system is. This entire blog is a chronicling of the affair. Sometimes heroes fail.

I saved the most enigmatic hero for last. Elon Musk. I so wanted to buy the first Tesla Roadster. That car made my hart beat faster. I wanted to buy his stock, but never did. My bad. Here was a man that made his own car company, and named the company after a true inventer and not that charlatan Edison. Yes I know Elon was not technically a founder of the company, he was certainly a funder that made the company successful. Not only was Elon a master that made Tesla a wildly successful global car company, he wants to retire on Mars! Elon has his own space company. Even better his space company provides me with internet so I can write in this blog.

I find it fascinating that we have a bunch of billionaires with their own space companies. Talk about competition. Now we have individuals doing what the government used to do. I have to wonder who will be the Jackie Stewart of the crowed. Bozos, Branson, Musk and a few smaller outfits are transforming space into a commercial enterprise. The future is yet to be written.

This is probably a good place to note that all my heros are male. I am not really sure why that is. There are not a lot of women race car drivers or astronauts. They are probably smarter for not being one of those. I did respect Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi who were politicians back when Iwas young. Not that I paid a lot of attention to politicians back then. I think I respect them more than I did our politicians at the time. Don’t ask me about our current crop, I have no respect for them.

Which brings me back to Elon Musk. He is taking on our current corrupt system. To my amazement he is throwing tens of billions of dollars at the problem. He is picking up the ball that was dropped after the tackling of Donald Trump. I have no idea if he can succeed. Treachery is the normal in that game. I really have no idea if fixing the system is an attainable goal. Then when it comes right down to it, Elon is also a guy. In this day being a guy is a negative. Where are the women? Marry Barra is head of GM, yet she seems so corporate. Elon is not corporate in the traditional sense. Maybe he is the new corporate, and is that a good thing? We will see. Anyway Elon is transformative, as all heros are.

Heroes can also the little people. We were taught Tomas Edison was the famous inventor, yet it was Nicholas Tesla that made electrification work. We were taught the Wright brothers invented the airplane, yet it was Glenn Curtis that made it fly. Henry Ford popularized the assembly line. Yet it is the factory workers that made the cars. Heroes are really the secondary people that get things done, and make the world a better place.

We need heroes, whoever they may be.


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