Thursday, February 12, 2009

Comparing "heroes"

Two recent heroes of mechanical life surfaced in Januaries. There is the "Sully" who crash landed his plane and all aboard lived. His expertise in handling a plane when birds took out both engines, his modesty in dealing with the media, and his calm awareness of the role luck played, all have combined to give this guy deserved media coverage. But I cannot help but compare Sully, and Wesley Autrey. Autrey threw himself in front of a subway car to save a sick man who fell on the tracks and by covering the one man between the tracks, the train rolled over both of them safely. Wesley's expertise was action to save another at a level of physical awareness that you don't predict or expect. Wesley's heroism, though he saved one life, and not one hundred and fifty-five, was a bolt out of life, society, education, and all ordinary expectations. Whether he knows it or not, he has no idea what deciding factors determined his actions. Of course neither does Sully really know, but Sully assumes his actions could have been predicted, since he trained for decades as a pilot, and adviser on crisis situations. I guess the glimpse I felt was lurking here, and there may be more, is this: Autrey had no time to decide what to do, no training for heroics, no sense that he was expected to DO anything, and though it seems Sully did have the latter two elements in his favor, what people cannot understand, and I can only point to, is that both these heroes of the mechanical, acted in blindness with energies most people are totally unaware of. And they won---and most will never understand the odds, or unlikeliness of their victories.

One interesting thought about the difference between Sully and Wesley is that Sully may have gotten more public recognition because the public understood HIS competence in a way that they could not the deeds of Autrey. It is like Autrey's heroic deed was so off the meter that people do not really want to contemplate his heroism.

Becoming aware of such nameless energies and pointing others towards the existence of such energies is part of the work of Jan Cox. I say these figures acted mechanically and that is not entirely the case, but they were certainly unaware intellectually of what they were doing.

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