Steven Vincent: Honoring a Life

What are we doing here?

What is it, exactly, that gets us from one day to the next, that gives our lives meaning, and that makes tolerable the intolerable fact that, as surely as we live, we will one day die?

To know how each person answers this question is to know the person. Those who had the honor of knowing Steven Vincent in life, know how he would have answered.

I did not get to meet Steven, but I did meet his widow, Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, in New York last November. I was struck by her strength, her poise, and her dedication to the same ideals that Steven gave his life for. This is what it means to truly respect a person, to honor them, and to support them: it is understanding and striving for the highest values that guided the other's life.

A couple of weeks ago, a screen pal on an online community I belong to wrote that she'd seen "Gunner Palace", and that until then, she hadn't had much compassion for US soldiers "in the abstract"; but after learning that so many of them were uneducated people with no other options, she was able to muster some form of sympathy.

Now as you can see, here the "compassion" is wholly dependent on the individual's own moral and intellectual superiority. It is a compassion that kicks in once its subject can be cut down to size. This person knew I was a veteran, but never thought to satisfy her curiosity about military life (and she must have been curious, because she took the time to watch the movie) by asking me directly. Because she was unable to see me "in the abstract".

Countercolumn has a great post on this, responding to a "Support the Troops" article at left-wing Mother Jones:
How about showing your support for your wife by condescending to her, infantilizing her at every turn, constantly telling other people what a dupe she is, and by opposing and hating everything she does?

Think she'll appreciate that?

Just askin'.

So back to Steven Vincent. A few months ago, I showed a friend the laptop I'd had signed by various luminaries at the Pajamas Media launch - including Lisa Ramaci-Vincent. "Don't know if you recall who Lisa Ramaci-Vincent is," I prompted, because it was clear she didn't know, "but she's the widow of Steven Vincent, the journalist killed in Iraq."

My friend rolled her eyes piously and let out an anguished sigh. "So many," she mused. Well, the theatrics were nice, but was there any curiosity about who this Steven Vincent person had been as an individual? What he had stood for, what he'd believed in, what he lived and died for? There was none.

You cannot "support" or "honor" anybody without knowing something about them - who they are and why they do what they do. Today we have honored Steven Vincent's memory with blog posts; tomorrow, and every day for the rest of our lives, we can honor his memory by the way we live.