View Full Version : Ben Stein's last column - great read

08-03-2004, 10:37 AM
Ben Stein is an economist, actor, writer and humorist (See his bio on
Biography.com). For many years he has written a biweekly column for the
online website called "Monday Night At Morton's". Now, Ben is
terminating the column to move on to other things in his life. Reading
his final column to our military is worth a few minutes of your time
because it praises the most unselfish among us; our military personnel,
others who protect us daily and portrays a valuable lesson learned in
his life.
Ben Stein's Last Column...
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How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

As I begin to write this, I "slug" it, as we writers say, which means I
put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is
"eonline FINAL," and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been
doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I
loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would
never end. It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing
as a person and the world's change have overtaken it.

On a small scale, Morton's, while better than ever, no longer attracts
as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves
and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days
ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a
splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that
Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton's is not the star
galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.

Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood
stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly
people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a
man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in
front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all
look up to.

How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in
insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someone
bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not
riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting
trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have
Vietnamese girls do their nails. They can be interesting, nice people,
but they are not heroes to me any longer.

A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his
head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by
a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets.
Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of
the decent people of the world.

A real star is the U.S. soldier who was
sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached
it, and the bomb went off and killed him.. A real star, the kind who haunts
my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a
little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where
he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it
just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a
little girl alive in Baghdad.

The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish
weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after
two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and
stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists. We put couples
with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The
noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on
guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near
the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor
values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that
who is eating at Morton's is a big subject. There are plenty of other
stars in the American firmament....the policemen and women who go off on
patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive, The
orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible
accidents and prepare them for surgery, the teachers and nurses who
throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children, the kind men and
women who work in hospices and in cancer wards. Think of each and every
fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the
towers began to collapse.

Now you have my idea of a real hero. We are not responsible for the
operation of the universe, and what happens to us is not terribly

God is real, not a fiction, and when we turn over our lives to Him, he
takes far better care of us than we could ever do for ourselves. In a
word, we make ourselves sane when we fire ourselves as the directors of
the movie of our lives and turn the power over to Him. I came to
realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my
highest and best use as a human.

I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as
great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin....or
Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman
or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them.
But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above
all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came
to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty
well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's
help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years.
I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into
a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him
the Psalms.

This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the
soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize
that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my
duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help
others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a

By Ben Stein
Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.

"We will never disarm any American who seeks to protect his or her family from fear and harm."

-- President Ronald Reagan

08-03-2004, 10:42 AM
I think the man is an Idiot or close to it anyway, especially after the comments he made last night on fare and balance News about the "People" from NYC. just goes to show there are morons every where.

08-04-2004, 04:17 AM
Naz, what exactly did he say?

08-04-2004, 09:39 AM
Hey NHP how are you doing?

Can not quote word for word but it was the usual dribble about how left wing New York as well as LA hates America, and how we despise middle America. also how East coast universities preach that America is the main villain on Earth and that 9/11 was richly deserved... on and on.
i just realize that the jerk off probably said all this so that he could sell more copies of the book he was peddling.