Wednesday, August 31, 2011


August 31, 2011

Who came second? Third? Last? Splendid. You may not have won but the important thing is you’re still a winner. Have a medal. A diploma. An award. Have whatever you like, perhaps a gilt cup or a money prize, because you deserve it, my friend, you won even if you didn’t and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Boy, wouldn’t you hate to be one of those pathetic losers.
Okay, let’s seek out a loser to jeer at and poke with a sharp stick. Finding one’s not easy. Where have they all gone? None around, only winners...
And then there are these other, lesser, winners. The ones whose feelings mustn’t be hurt, so hold off on the taunting and the victory dance. Those non-winning winners get to be champions too even though in actual fact they really – dare I say it – aren’t.
Nobody wants to cause someone emotional damage. Picking on a loser - that would be kicking a guy when he’s down. So better to help him up onto the champion’s podium even though he’s really the “L” word.
I’m a loser. I lost in civil court because I didn’t know how the system worked. I lost at table tennis and chess because... well, because the other guys were always better.
Holy excuses, Batman! Almost came up with a cop-out there. If I had, it would’ve fitted in perfectly for this day and age where we’re all mollycoddled to the point of meaninglessness. Where it’s never our fault, always someone or something else’s. Where you may have broken the rules but you’re forgiven because of your deprived childhood or your poor mental state at the time. Where a punishment may be meted out but it doesn’t hurt. Where everyone has rights and nobody has responsibilities.
We’re all winners in this country. Shucks, we’re Americans, aren’t we?
So we’re heroes too.
Being a hero is no more difficult than being a winner: there isn’t a lot involved. You really don’t have to do anything at all: just survive a tornado, become ill, get shot. “Local hero Harry Flutenpusher pictured here convalescing after getting plugged in his sleep.” Valiant Harry displayed immense courage as he snored through the attack.
But heroics also come without blood. Just score a touchdown, sing, act, play the kazoo. “Guitar hero Harry Flutenpusher pictured at his recent sell-out concert.” And presumably before he was so bravely shot in his sleep. Harry gets two medals.
Was a time when to be a hero you had to actually do something lionhearted like write a column for your local newspaper that raises the hackles of some in the community. Heh. No, please, you’re too kind. This is what I do for a living so scratch my name off and put the trophy back.
These days one’s valor is merely a measure of one’s musical or athletic ability, and to win all you need to do is “be”. In sport, being big helps.
To earn a purple heart you don’t even have to bleed, let alone die. As long as the injury is a direct result of enemy action and you’re seen by a medic you qualify, even if all you had was a band-aid boo-boo. And that must gall those who’ve lost limbs and the kin of those killed in action.
Which is why we must quit this nonsense about everyone’s a winner and everyone’s a hero because it devalues our respect for the really deserving.
Notice how nobody’s even evil any more? Let’s see: there’s Hitler, oh and Charles Manson. Satan, yep, there’s a good one – or rather there’s a bad one. Definitely that Lucifer guy. But who else? Oops, almost forgot Jeffrey Dahmer. He’s the cannibal chappie who ate 17 young gentlemen in the 1980s and burped his last in prison in 1994, battered – but not eaten - by a fellow lifer. Gobblin’ Jeff gets labeled as evil personified whereas in fact he was merely a total fruitcake.
Go back in history for others; today’s biggest evildoers are the ones running those huge multinational corporations that poison our air and our water and our very bodies for profit and who corrupt our entire society. Don’t get me started.
Fair play is one thing, but America is a clear example of fairness gone mad. It’s the game that counts, not the winning? Nobody finds that sentiment remotely appropriate these days!
We’ve all got to win all the time. Coming in second is the same as coming in last. Bronze medal? Is that all? You can keep it, buddyboy. I’m a winner. I want gold.
It’s what’s wrong, it’s all our fault and it begins in the classroom. Too many alleged adults whingeing at the teachers that the gold star should have gone to their child instead of that other woman’s brat. So they make the whiners the winners.
Being tops is everything nowadays and it doesn’t matter how you achieve it.
Credits just for attending class even though we dozed through all the lessons. Teachers themselves ruining children’s lives with their greed. We’ve just seen the largest school cheating scandal in history right here in Atlanta, with the GBI investigating nearly 200 principals and educators for securing big bonuses by falsifying children’s test scores.
Performance-enhancing drugs on the playing field and in the arena, cheat sheets at school and shady deals on Wall Street and in Washington and everyone’s ahead of the game, right? It’s all one great big win-win situation?
The way I see it, though, only losers favor win-win.


© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.