Two Memorials

Sometimes people are taken for granted until they die: sometimes deservedly so, sometimes not.
Pope John Paul has just died, There will be countless stories and eulogies about how great he was and all he accomplished. Most will be exaggerated.
He is credited for urging Christians to stop persecuting Jews. That was nice of him. Does that mean it was considered ok before?
He is credited with influencing the 'downfall' of Soviet Communism. Ronald Reagan tried to take credit for that, and we didn't believe him, either. One is reminded of the proud rooster who believes his crowing makes the sun rise in the morning.
There is one bit of wisdom from John Paul that may have been widely ignored. He pointed out that, while communist regimes in practice restricted freedom, that communism as a philosophy contains a 'Kernel of Truth', that capitalism exploits and increases the hardship and suffering of the poor.
While this observation is neither new nor surprising, it is worthy of consideration by those, especially Americans, who have been propogandized to believe that capitalism is synonomous with freedom. Freedom no more requires unrestrained capitalism than it needs burglary to be legalized.
Overall, though, I am not impressed. Consider that the Pope has virtually supreme authority over the Catholic church, and that John Paul had 26 years in office. True equality for women, an end to the ban on birth control, permission for priests and nuns to marry, acceptance of homosexuality-- these could all have been achieved. Obviously this Pope did not care enough about improving the lives of Catholics to make real progressive changes.

Hunter S. Thompson

was slightly less well known than the pope, but much more worthy of being remembered. His journalistic and literary contributions have been immense. Even more important than what he wrote was his invention of a new concept in journalism: that truth is more important than accuracy.
He called his style gonzo journalism. He would get involved in the the events and stories he reported, in order to get the sense of what it meant, not to record the series of irrelevant facts that other reporters were regurgitating.
Too many of us are misled and manipulated by the economically and politically powerful who feed us selected bits of information, which, even if accurate, only obscure and distract us from the truth. The Bush administration has been a prime example. Journalists, with their obsession for objectivism, only aid in this deception.
Hunter Thompson set a better example by expressing his outrage at the greed, the abuse of power, and the stifling effect on individual freedom that results from it.
So, which is more admirable: to have the power to do great good and do comparitively little, or to be a small, if eloquent, voice in the wilderness who speaks the truth to all who will listen? Without hesitation, I vote for Hunter S. Thompson.
And although it is traditional to say May he rest in peace...,I'm not sure Hunter would want it that way.
--captain rat 200504.03