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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bruce Jenner, Heroism and Individuality Run Amok...

Earning Gold; a true American hero...
In the summer of 1976, aside from getting immersed in the Beatles and starting to run for the first time, influenced by two older cousins from Chicago, who were staying at our house (She, like any teenage girl, was into music and he, a football player, training for the upcoming high school season), I remember sitting in front of the television set in our family room with my parents, younger brother and cousins night-after-night, as we watched the Olympic games. It was the first time I had seen, or even been interested in, the international sporting event but I had older cousins who were fans, so I wanted to do whatever they did.

We were captivated by a 14-year-old Romanian gymnast named Nadia Comaneci.  We rooted against the Cuban national team, as all good Cuban exiles did at the time, including Sugar Ray Leonard's defeat of Cuba's top light welterweight boxer.  And, we cheered, most of all, for one of the greatest athletes that ever wore the red, white and blue, compete in arguably the greatest feat in Olympic sports history, the ten-event decathlon, and win.

Bruce Jenner unified the nation, at a time when it needed it most following Vietnam, Roe v. Wade, Watergate and internal political and social strife (not to mention the Cold War).

He had a chiseled face, broad shoulders and a Captain America smile. He represented everything that the United States, which was celebrating its bicentennial year, was at the time; young, strong and selfless; a true role model; a national hero.  That was then.

Today, Jenner has become a hero to some for another reason.  As most of the world knows, at the tender age of 65, after three failed marriages and having fathered six children, Jenner says he's no longer Bruce but Caitlyn, the woman he was always meant to be.  You can pot up The Crying Game theme song right about here.

In search of happiness...
He has become a symbol of the pursuit of happiness and individuality at all cost, regardless of who might get hurt, including his family and children, some of whom have publicly supported his very public announcement on prime-time television but others who have remained silent, eventual grandchildren, who will one day have to figure out why grandpa is a grandma and a new generation of kids, who will not remember him for what he did for his country but what he did for himself.

It's ironic, in a society where women are repeatedly told to love their bodies and accept themselves for who they are, as one of my wife's friends pointed out, Jenner is celebrated, praised and awarded honors for not accepting his.

Well, despite all the hoopla, fanfare and victory laps by the LGBT community, the Emperor is not wearing new clothes, he's naked!  And the crying girls mobbing North Korean Dictator Kim Jung Un, like infatuated teenagers meeting their idol, are shedding alligator tears (Or maybe got a whiff of his breath!).

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once wrote, "Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived... Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality.  Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way.  In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love."

And, that may well be where we are as a culture; sentimentality, which may be why the divorce rate is where it is and children are growing up with no sense of objective morality, since everybody is different and what's true for you isn't necessarily true for me.  We can mold truth into what we want it to be just as we can mold God into what we want Him to be.

Despite not knowing the man, I can't help but feel a sense of affection for Jenner for what he accomplished on the field and the many memories he provided.  I realize his intentions appear to be sincere, however misguided I think they may be.  I hope he does find the happiness he seeks but I suspect that it'll take more than surgeries and hormones to find true fulfillment.

As I reflect on the story, the thought I'm left with is this; if that's how I feel about someone I never met, how must his children feel, and I'm not talking about what they may say in public but what they really feel.  As a father I cannot see myself breaking my children's heart even if it means breaking my own...




2 comments:

Jorge Costales said...

Personal effects aside, Jenner seems to doing all possible to maximize ratings for his reality show. Do you suppose the concept of 'memento mori' has come up in the production meetings?

Carlos Espinosa said...

Lol, Jorge. It's momento but no. I doubt it has come up...