Hero? Public Servant?

Gabrielle Giffords, Democratic nominee and gen...

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Daniel Hernandez is the intern who in his first week of working for Rep. Gabrielle (Gabby) Giffords may have saved her life. He used his training as a nurse’s assistant, to care for her soon after she got shot. Like many heroes before him, he is resisting that moniker. Instead he says, “People have been referring to me as a hero. I don’t think that I am. I think the people who are heroes are people like Gabby, who have dedicated their lives to public service.”

Last summer I worked for a man running for public office. Mr. Hernandez’ words resonate with me. I learned to respect and admire this man. I was impressed with how hard it was just to campaign for office, much less to serve. I was inspired by his selfless motivation in becoming a public servant.

America’s voters are cynical about politicians. I reflect back on my own many posts that attack politicians. Yes, it’s easy to complain about politicians. We don’t often pause to remember how noble public service is.

I have always maintained that the problem with our system is us. The public is more at fault for the ugliness in politics than the public servants are. Their behavior is shaped by ours. We are the one’s who can’t take the time to research issues, so we are quick to jump on a bandwagon after hearing some spin that taps into our anger. We are the ones who can’t take time to research candidates and issues on the ballot, so candidates must spend more and more money trying to grab enough media to get noticed.

I hope and pray that the tragedy of the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords might have a silver lining. Maybe people will pause to contemplate the tension between the two notions that those who serve the public are heroes rather than villains.

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  • Jim Wheeler  On January 11, 2011 at 3:20 am

    Good post, John.

    There is a similarity between civil service and the military. Both are engaged to serve the nation or the state for the good of all citizens. That moral component of compensation separates both from those who work for material gain alone. To be disengaged with the issues of society and the world at large is, in my opinion, an abrogation of personal responsibility in a democracy. By simply blogging, you are being part of that process.

    Thank you for being a good part of the process.


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