For anyone that didn’t see me on Halloween, I went as Suede (from Project Runway fame). People’s reactions really surprised me.
Their biggest comment was “Wow, you’re really brave”, followed by “You’re not afraid?”
To the former I responded with a shrug and to the latter a responded with a silent shake of the head, because I really wasn’t sure how to respond. Brave? I don’t know if I’d really call myself brave. Bravery is the act of showing courage in the face of fear. I’m not sure that fear really fit into it. Fear is an emotional response to threats and danger. There was no threat since I was willingly submitting myself to the shears and there was no danger…I mean, it’s just hair. So can I really be considered brave? No. Fearless, perhaps…but attributing my steeliness in the barber’s chair to bravery is something I I cannot claim.
I can’t speak of McCain, but on that fateful day he got shot down and became a prisoner of war…there’s no way to discount the fear in that situation. There are very few more dangerous places to be than in the cockpit of an A-4 and you suddenly with the warning signal that a surface-to-air missile has locked and there is very real threat to your person. For McCain to be counted among the brave, he needed to show courage at this moment.
Aristotle tells us that courage is dependent on sound judgement, “for it needs to be known whether the end justifies the risk incurred”.
The nice thing about being a soldier instead of a general is that you have superiors to make that call for you. Air Force protocol mandates that in this situation the pilot must fly evasive maneuvers. According to his mission landing his payload was not as important as bringing his plane (and his self) back in one piece. McCain disobeyed this order and clearly did not show sound judgement. McCain doesn’t have the ability in the crisis to think of the greater good, rather than his own pride.
Aristotle goes on to talk about the relationship between courage and fear.
“Courage is not the absence of fear (which may be a vice), but the ability to feel the appropriate amount of fear; courage is a mean between timidity and overconfidence.”
I won’t go so far as to say that McCain didn’t feel fear in his cockpit that day, but surely he didn’t feel enough fear. A more timid and pilot would have been less concerned about being a hero and more concerned with his own well-being. I less overconfident pilot would have been able to bring his plane back in one piece, perhaps to run a rescue mission for POW’s. Because of his rashness and egoism, both he and his plane were incapacitated rendering them both impotent and useless to his fellow air force buddies. Perhaps a real hero would be the pilot that admits defeat, flies back to base with his plane, and hands it over to a rescue mission. Perhaps if the air force didn’t put a pilot that should have been kicked out of academy behind the stick, the mission would have been successful…or if not he could have returned to fly again. Perhaps if we as an American people don’t put a pilot who probably deserved to be court marshalled for failure to follow orders in the white house, we won’t see our own country crash and burn because of McCain’s rashness and egoism.
Obama has been criticized for his timidity, but since Aristotle points out that a lack of fear is surely a vice then the correct amount of timidity must then be a virtue. I used to think that if we were going to be involved in a war that I opposed, McCain would be the best man for the job. After all, a war veteran has to be a better commander-in-chief than a failed oil mogul that ran several companies into the ground (and we’re surprised that our country was driven into the ground financially?). Now that we’re learning the facts about McCain’s military record, there is not a more dangerous man for the job than a fighter pilot that doesn’t understand the need for military discipline.
End Political Rant Here
On a less political note, on Halloween Peeps went as Stella (also from Project Runway). I was very happy with her costume for two reasons:
First was that it was very esoteric. When I do Halloween costumes I consider it a success if at least one person recognizes us during the evening and everyone else likes the costume even if they don’t know who we are. We hit our quota early as one girl immediately recognized us as we went into the Halloween party. Although no one else recognized us, one girl said she really liked Peep’s “Demonic Seamstress” costume. Success!
The second reason I was happy with her costume was that I made it myself…well, I made the top…out of a long-sleeve shirt, but as my first attempt at tee-shirt surgery, and I consider it very successful. Check out the back that I did for her!
A Political P.S. I’m glad this week that I’m finally getting more hits for “Fundamental Difference McCain Obama” and “Fundamental Difference Obama McCain” than “What makes a person gay?”