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Robert Rabbin: Be A Hero In Our World

Be a Hero in Our World

by Robert Rabbin

This is an appeal to every White House reporter and journalist, to every man and to every woman who has access to Bush administration officials: please be a hero in our world. In mythology and legend, a hero is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for bold exploits, and thus favored by the gods. A hero is noted and celebrated for feats of courage and celebrated for risking or sacrificing one's life for a noble purpose. Please be a hero in our world. Please risk everything that you fear to lose for the sake of truth, the noblest purpose human beings can undertake. I am asking a lot, I know, but nothing less than I myself am prepared to give and to risk in my life and in my world.

I would not ask this of you in other, calmer and less fearful times. But today is not a calm time. Today is a fearful time. I do not believe I am over-speaking to say that today and tomorrow and the day after may be the only three days we have to avoid calamities of war, brutality, oppression, poverty, and starvation on a scale unprecedented in human history. I do not believe I am ranting irresponsibly to suggest that we are flirting with calamities we cannot even imagine because...well, because they should not even be imaginable. But many things have come to pass that were once unimaginable. We can put an end to these unimaginable calamities if we are willing to become heroes in our world, if we are willing to embark, today, on the hero's journey to truth.

I am not a reporter. I am not a journalist. I am not an editor. But I am a writer and I share with you a love and respect for words. We know from "Writing 101" that words have power and efficacy to the degree they are imbued with truth. When we write, we evaluate our words, don't we? We subject each word to the "truth" test. This testing of words gives credibility to our work. This is what our readers want from us--true words. They want to trust us, they want to believe us, and we are bound by a writer's conscience to offer the truest words we can write.

Of course, we should stop right here and ponder for a moment about this thing called truth. What is it? I don't know if I am a good enough writer to say in words what my heart knows about this thing called truth. But, if I am asking you to risk all that you fear to lose--job, income, reputation, approval, access--for the sake of truth, I should attempt to tell you what I mean, why I think truth is so important, and why I think truth is the only thing we have to put in between us and unimaginable calamities.

Looking at the entries for truth in various dictionaries, we find that truth is defined as "a statement that corresponds to fact or reality"; "sincerity in action, character, and utterance"; "the body of real things, events, and facts." It's interesting to note that, etymologically, truth means fidelity and faithfulness. But the truth is not so easy as these definitions would have us believe, because of beliefs. Our beliefs are the lenses through which we perceive our self, others, and the world around us. Furthermore, our beliefs inspire our values, and our values inspire our actions. To put it simply: our beliefs determine how we see the world, what we value, and how we act.

When we believe something to be true, we can look contrary evidence right in the face and not see it. For example, President Bush believes that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network. People whose minds are not clouded by this belief will be able to look at the evidence and say, "No, that is not true." But President Bush cannot see this, because his beliefs are impenetrable cataracts covering his eyes and thus he is blind to the otherwise self-evident truth. President Bush does not believe in global warming, and so he is not only unable to see what the rest of the world sees, he would be unable to see Manhattan swept away by a tidal wave which once lived thousands of miles away as an arctic glacier.

A further example: Vice President Dick Cheney believes that war is the natural state of man. He will, as he does, select only the evidence that supports his belief or, in the absence of evidence, invent evidence. We all do this, because until we recognize our beliefs as beliefs, we will mistake our beliefs for truth. We create an internal world based on our beliefs, and then we project those beliefs outward in self-fulfilling ways. As the eminent spiritual philosopher, J. Krishnamurti, once said, "The crisis is not out there in the world, it is within our own consciousness."

If one believes that war is the natural state of man, one will act in ways to fulfill that belief: one will fabricate a world in which war is inevitable. One who believes what Dick Cheney believes cannot tolerate the absence of war, because that would throw his world into disarray and chaos. Simply put, war is Dick Cheney's comfort food. War is his meaning and purpose in life. War confirms and validates his perception of reality. War is Dick Cheney's truth and, as we have seen, he will think, say, and do unimaginable things to fulfill his belief. We all know that the beliefs of President Bush and Vice President Cheney--and others in their administration who share their beliefs--have precipitated calamities unimaginable to people whose eyes and minds and hearts are not corrupted by such beliefs.

I suppose this would be a good time to confess a few of my beliefs: Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were not in cahoots, global warming is real, and war is not the natural state of man. I further believe that no action or utterance by President Bush or Vice President Cheney is true. But to go further down this path might antagonize you and sidetrack me from my purpose, which is to ask you to become a hero in our world. I just felt I should tell you the truth of my beliefs.

If you have ever tried to argue or persuade a person away from their beliefs, you know this cannot be done. But all is not lost, because there is a way to separate beliefs from truth; there is a way to discern the body of evidence that corresponds to truth, as distinct from manufactured evidence and all of the attendant rationalizations and justifications. While this way is not foolproof, it is worthwhile. The way to sift through things in search of truth is to question.

I know that you do this every day. The lifeblood of your profession is to ask questions. But to become a hero in our world and to make the best use of today, tomorrow, and the next day, I want to ask you to question the answers to your first question. This is risky. Government officials can be quite intimidating. To question their answers is to begin to risk many things, but it is also the beginning of the hero's journey to truth. We need you to help reveal truth from fiction. We need you to help us see clearly those whose closed eyes cannot see ocean swells that forebode tidal waves, who cannot see the horror of war, who cannot see the desperation and despair of impoverished people, who cannot see the creeping calamities that are truly unimaginable.

Please forgive me for what I am about to propose. I would not do it in other, calmer and less fearful times. But too much is at stake not to rise to the rank of hero in our world. Think for a moment of one who you love, perhaps your husband or wife, perhaps your child, or grandchild. Suppose this person, who you love, were stolen away from you and imprisoned, tortured, raped, and mutilated. Suppose this person were subjected to unimaginable abuse, that they somehow survived, escaped from, and found their way back to you. And then suppose that the perpetrator of these horrors was apprehended and bound over for trial. Suppose the perpetrator had a lot of money, a good alibi, and a crack team of lawyers. You'd want to get the best lawyer in the world, wouldn't you? You'd want to get a lawyer who would question, who would challenge, who would interrogate, who would do everything to get behind the defendant's façade of denial, wouldn't you?

Suppose you were that attorney. Suppose you had full and sole responsibility for finding enough evidence to convict the person who had imprisoned, tortured, raped, and mutilated your husband or wife, your child or grandchild. What would you do? How would you act? What would you accept? How far would you push, probe, question, interrogate? In this scenario, it is up to you to find and reveal the truth, to shine the light so brightly on " the body of real things, events, and facts" that the jurors would be bound by what you have revealed to convict the perpetrator, based on the evidence, based on the truth.

What would you do? What would you risk? How far would you go for the sake of truth? Would you not become a hero? Would you not become a warrior for truth? Would you not find within you a strength of purpose and resolve that you never knew you had?

I will close with a simple, heartfelt appeal: please, be a hero in our world. Do what you can to find the truth, to reveal the truth, and to present the truth. We have three days to avoid unimaginable calamities.


© 2004/Robert Rabbin/All rights reserved

Robert Rabbin is a writer and speaker with a passion for radically engaged spiritual wisdom. He is the author of numerous books and articles, and the director of, an online spiritual activism center. For more information, visit

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