*SAY YOU SAW IT IN THE MESSENGER*
Just a Quick Note from…..Rita Allen
Not in many years has an article come across my desk that has so dramatically affected me. At an early age I had the opportunity to enter the entertainment world to a very large degree. I was offered a contract with the same agent who made Pat Boone famous.
Because he told me, during the course of the conversation, that it would “cost me everything” I opted not
to sign. Today, at 50 years of age, I cannot tell you how thankful I am that
I made that choice. My life has been so full and so wonderful and I have maintained
a quality of life that would have been impossible had I made a different choice. Ben
Stein, of all people, echoes my sentiments to somewhat the same degree. In case
some of you might not know who he is….he is the nice gentleman with the monotone voice who did the ClearEyes commercials!
Yes, Ben, the highest existence of a human being is to live to help others. This
is the heart of God.
For many years Ben Stein has written a biweekly column for the online website called "Monday Night At Morton's".
(Morton's is a famous chain of Steakhouses known to be frequented by movie stars and famous people from around the globe.)
Now, Ben is terminating the column to move on to other things in his life. Ben
Stein's Last Column...
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 "eonlineFINAL," 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 important. 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 allowed me to live, to help others
He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human. ~Ben