BEATING THE BERNIE MADOFF BLUES

Never underestimate the power—and presence—of America’s good guys.

I did, in the belief that the country is quickly running out of people we can look up to. Here’s the way I saw things: Heroism is being run out of town by cynics like Ponzi-poisoner Bernie Madoff who guaranteed unheard of riches and ended up a poster boy for financial crimes against humanity. His cancerous greed-is-good disease even infected the children of Martin Luther King who have turned their father’s hallowed name into a cash cow.

Sure, I thought, once in a while we’re moved by the life-saving action of a Sully Sullenberger of Hudson River plane crash fame. Or we marvel at the courage of pirate hostage Richard Philips. But admirable as they are, these people are soon-forgotten one shot wonders. In this day and age, it’s the scum bag who stole billions of dollars and ruined countless lives that the media will follow to his grave. They’ll keep the spotlight on the Kings, too.

Since misery loves company and hubris comes easily, I decided to write about what I perceived to be the demise of heroes and heroines.

The plan was to base my argument on the results of my own little e-mail survey asking people to name living Americans whom they consider genuine heroes or heroines. I also requested that they let me know if they couldn’t think of any. The survey was ridiculously unscientific and the sample was small. So what! I figured that practically everyone questioned would agree with me.

I didn’t even come close.

Final score: 40 heroes and heroines were named; 1 respondent couldn’t identify a hero or heroine to save his life; 6 survey requests went unanswered.

One woman put it all in perspective when she proudly wrote, “I believe heroes abound in America.” Meanwhile, the lone man who couldn’t think of a single living American hero or heroine promised to help me “if you ask for a list of demonic evil doers.”

After reading the comments of everyone who responded to my e-mails, I realized that the people they named are not only heroic. They’re therapeutic, in that they boost their admirers’ faith in this recession-racked country of ours.

I’m so glad my premise was wrong.

Want to know who the heroes are? I’m naming names. (No need for torture). Just email me at shellessen@gmail.com