The Patriots won the Superbowl for the first time in 42 years. Beantown rightfully rallied behind its gridiron warriors -- in the streets, on the Commons, on the stomping grounds of our forefathers. In the midst of this euphoria, New England patriarch Edward Kennedy read a statement into the Congressional Record: "At a time when our country is banding together and facing down individualism, the Patriots set a wonderful example, showing us all what is possible when we work together, believe in each other, and sacrifice for the greater good."
Did he say, "facing down individualism?" Is individualism something that needs facing down? I think not. The eradication of individualism is not a desired side-affect of our unified front against terrorism. Rather, it's an acerbic addition to the equation.
In the wake of Sept. 11, individuals across the nation have spoken out against blind acquiescence to the stars and stripes. And, in general, even those proudly flying the flag and exalting President George W. Bush agree that bipartisanship and extreme patriotism can be a dangerous; it leads to discrimination against those who do not follow the crowd -- be they religious or ethnic minorities, political nonconformists or social rebels.
A lack of individualism forges a society where the women are forced to dress in identical full-body sheaths and people are afraid to speak out against such oppressive customs. It flourishes in a culture where people live (and die) strictly based on their religion and nobody is bold enough to lead life based on the tenets of another creed. A lack of individualism is rampant in communities that foster terrorism -- societies that the United States and United Nations are attempting to undermine. It's not something we want to "face down" here in the States, regardless of who won the Superbowl.
The individuals who shined in last Sunday's football game should take offense to Massachusetts Senator Kennedy's statement. Sure, football is a team sport, but Tom Brady's individual composure during the game-winning drive was not something spawned from the huddle. And Adam Vinatieri's 48-yard, seven-second-remaining-on-the-clock field goal was not a bad individual showing either. A team is a compilation of driven, talented individuals. Without a core of ambitious, solitary members, however, a team cannot function.
What's most perplexing is that Kennedy, or one of his staff members, actually prepared a speech that contained a line discouraging individualism. It's not as if Kennedy spouted this remark to a group of prodding reporters as he left the capital. It was a premeditated statement that Kennedy presumably proofread and practiced before repeating to the media. Apparently he is the one lacking individualism if he blindly regurgitates any text his staff scribbles down for him.
The lessons learned from our blubbering senator are multitudinous: examine the accepted, avoid sweeping generalizations, write your own speeches. And be glad you are not the underpaid staff member or inexperienced intern who wrote this statement -- unless Kennedy wrote it himself, in which case we should be glad we aren't as jaded and imbecilic as he is.
Archived article by Andrea Forker