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Friday, November 5, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 54

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No matter what happens, carry on

By Duy Dao

Tragedy seems almost commonplace nowdays. When I flip on the tube or read a headline in the daily paper, I feel like I'm playing Russian roulette. I'm spinning the chamber of the gun and hoping that, once the trigger is pulled, luck is on my side.

I won't hear about madmen spraying bullets into innocent people. There won't be any more natural disasters slaughtering thousands in Third World countries. Planes, trains, and automobiles -- when will we ever feel safe in them?

My focus is to not raise hysteria. It's to remind people that we do not have to dwell in grief because we cannot stop the madness. We can, however, look at our own lives and refrain from being focused on raising the dead.

I learned at an early age that nothing is ever guaranteed. The people you aspire to emulate may not always be around to guide you through life's atrocities. It is my belief that our heroes are our saviors because they remind us that, behind their seemingly impenetrable shield, there is still a heartbeat.

The sports community has suffered great losses in the past six months. Wilt Chamberlain, Payne Stewart and Walter Payton are no longer with us. Kim Perrot's long and courageous battle with cancer has come to an end.

This year, after almost three decades of debate on his whereabouts, stirred by Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," we have finally figured out where Joe Dimaggio has gone.

People die, and there is no rational explanation for it. If we stop all the unnecessary killings, there will still be aging and disease. There is no miracle cure for death; everything is relevant.

When I take a moment to observe people's lives before their demise, I wonder if they lived their lives to the fullest. I think if there is consolation for a short life, it's knowing you left with a sense of dignity.

It has nothing to do with how many people you inspired with your achievements. It's not your fame or fortune that determines how you should be remembered. If you're content with yourself, you have lived a wonderful life.

Let's take the life of Jim "Catfish" Hunter, for example. In case you're unfamiliar with him, he was a major league pitcher who played for the New York Yankees and Oakland A's during the '70s. Elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, he compiled 224 career victories, five straight 20-win seasons and an astounding five World Series rings.

Two months ago, at the age of 53, he died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, popularly named "Lou Gehrig's Disease" after the great New York Yankee baseball player. ALS is a fatal neuromuscular disease characterized by progressive muscle weakness, resulting in paralysis and eventual death.

What made this man remarkable was how he never let fame and fortune divert him from humility. He was a human being like you and me -- flesh and blood.

On the field, he terrified hitters with his presence and gave the game everything he had. Off the field, he was an ordinary person who slung his pride aside when he could no longer control the outcome. He was, in fact, just as vulnerable as you and I.

What happened to him is a shame, but then again, it could happen to any one of us. I speak introspectively because it has happened in my life.

My dad passed away five years ago from ALS. At first, it was hard to deal with. As the years rolled by, I learned that I don't have to be traumatized for the rest of my life. There is solace when you can set all your misfortunes aside and continue to walk a straight path.

Today, I can read the paper and not be too negatively swayed by tragic news.

If the weather report calls for heavy thunderstorms and blistering tornadoes, I cannot change it to sunshine. I can walk outside with my shirt dripping wet in rain that will not let up anytime soon. My best choice is to pop open my umbrella and brave the storm.


 
Dao, a senior media production major,
can be reached at Dweevil@hotmail.com.
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