Niagara Gazette


May 4, 2014

SINGER: In praise of the indispensables


Niagara Gazette — But this seems the indiscriminate, cheapening way today, where triviality has been made to reign (by the media). And yet, think what England fighting alone in 1940 against Hitler’s juggernaut would have been without Churchill at the helm. Think of the proverbial difference so many others have made for our benefit. Just for openers, Jonas Salk’s vaccine, rendering polio that once confined people to wheelchairs for life an afterthought (except in places like war-torn Syria, where it’s been making a sad comeback).

Or think simply of people in your own family, or of dear friends who are, yes, indispensable. A man with a fourth-grade education but lots of smarts once told his son, a pal of mine, that if in your maturity you can count your friends on your knees, you’re lucky. I.e., two who are truly significant...

“You have to have known him!” a French person once put it to me. “They broke the mold” or “he/she is one of a kind” are other ways of describing unique personalities who cross our path.

We see that in old Lucy or Carol Burnett shows from TV’s golden age, where no one, but no one could replace such stars. In real life, there are certain doctors, nurses, or mechanics you can’t easily replace as well. And on it goes...

But there’s also the apothegm that “when everybody’s somebody, nobody is anybody,” which has never been truer! Speaking a bit rigorously, and with relativism briefly tossed out the window, are there people one could call not indispensable? More than a few, I’d say! My own list would include actors like the insipid (to me) Ashton Kutcher. If Mr. Kutcher were somehow to move to the North Pole tomorrow, retiring from his televised labors into what I’d consider a merited obscurity, I wouldn’t mourn his loss on the small screen at all.

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