Purpose This essay presents ten articles that carry stories of human conduct, disposition, and dedication toward the attainment individual and group goals.
Objective The objective of this paper is to consolidate ten articles into one coherent essay focused toward human dedication. The illustration of human dedication in various settings reinforces the leadership development of this student/writer thereby making <him/her> a better leader in varied life situations.
Introduction In not so distant a past, human heroism, courage, and dedication to personal convictions were brought to the knowledge of those who can afford to buy print media and those who have access to radio and television. Today, access to internet has become relatively easy and cheap so that people around the world can now watch “history unfolds” any time and day—thanks to telecommunications technological progress and to CNN and BBC and among other global and regional news media outlets.
What does “dedication” toward something mean? Why would one spend hours working on something for the sake of others; or even sacrifice his/her life for somebody else; while others do not care? Is it an individual choice? Or, simply human nature?
The articles “December 22, 2006 marked the successful completion of STS-116, one of the most challenging shuttle missions in NSA’s history,” writes Heiney (NASA, 2007). This mission had several significant records to compile for the International Space Station (ISS)—an international consortium for space exploration led by the USA through its NASA: it readied the future additions of European and Japanese laboratory modules; deployed three small scientific satellites; conducted the 75th in space walk for the station’s history; logged a 6-1/2-hour effort.
Meanwhile, “A Marine major from Camp Pendleton has become the highest-ranking female service member to die in Iraq since the start of the war,” write Walker and Beck (2006). “Maj. Megan McClung, 34, a Camp Pendleton public affairs officer who was serving with the I Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, was killed Wednesday in the insurgent hotbed Anbar province in a roadside bomb explosion in the city of Ramadi.” Some of the positive accounts about McClung are: “She was a great friend to all who served with her. Her death has shocked and saddened all who knew her. She will be deeply missed.” She “earned the respect of her male colleagues by outrunning them… [she demonstrated] “her dedication to the Marine Corps and her duties as a public affairs officer. She was single.” In Toledo, Ohio, a “35-year-old Detective Keith Dressel” was killed by a suspected drug dealer in a chase that “may have interrupted some kind of drug deal.” The fallen cop “was a hero…. He gave his life doing a job he enjoyed and was highly professional at. He’s a good friend of mine, and he’ll be missed by many…. Dressel is survived by his wife and two children, ages 6 and 4” WorldNow and WTOL (2007). “Three men were trapped at night 1,000 feet up on a smokestack in northern West Virginia…. Fire was burning on all but about 10 feet of a platform that looked like a fiery cork in the top of the building. When the troopers’ helicopter arrived … the men had been trapped for about two hours, covered in soot and huddled together…. It was hellish conditions … on top of the chimney,” said Kelly, a flight paramedic for the Maryland State Police. The basket slipped off the edge of the platform as he got inside, falling 10 feet and out of sight momentarily. It was a “heart stopper,” Kelly said, “but the man didn’t fall…. It took roughly 15 minutes to pluck the men to safety,” reports Witte (2006).
Associated Press (AP) reports of commendable initiatives of “whistle-blowers” that “tipped off the government to $1.3 billion worth of fraud cases over the past year, largely at hospitals or other health care providers,” (2006). AP reports further of a “$3.1 billion settlements … a record amount from individuals and companies during the 2006 fiscal year…. Whistle-blowers have helped the government recover an estimated $18 billion since 1986, when Congress approved laws to strengthen their protections.” AP quotes Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who helped write the laws as saying: “Today, individual citizens are making the same kind of important difference in exposing fraud by those who do business with the government,” (2006).
“The Rev. Robert Drinan , a Roman Catholic priest who was forced to choose between the priesthood and a career as a Massachusetts congressman, was remembered yesterday by colleagues in the clergy and the Congress as a man who committed his life to advancing human rights and justice,” reports Milligan (2007). A “former Boston College administrator … was the first priest to win election to the House of Representatives…. One of the chamber’s most liberal lawmakers … became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War and an architect of the effort to impeach President Richard M. Nixon…. Despite his faith … supported abortion rights — a controversial stance that put him at odds with his church and underscored [his] competing commitments to his faith and to the voters in his progressive Massachusetts district.” Milligan quotes Rev. John Langan: “On the immensely painful subject of abortion, there was conflict and tension, a conflict I wish neither to minimize or to revisit, but only to put in the context of a common concern for the well-being of women and children in a society racked by moral disagreement,” (2007). “Drinan left Congress after five terms, when Pope John Paul II gave him an ultimatum in 1980: Leave political office or leave the priesthood,” continues Milligan (2007). [Senator Edward M.] “Kennedy lauded Drinan as a courageous colleague who was relentless in his battle for human rights and boldly took on a president [by] filing the initial impeachment resolution against Nixon in 1973…. He demonstrated constantly that each of us has the capacity to work for change and have an impact, and he did it by example — through his service, his faith and ministry, and his writings and his passion for education.” Recalling Drinan’s opposition to the Vietnam War, Kennedy alluded to the ongoing war in Iraq, “We miss him more than ever in the halls of Congress today, when that history is repeating itself,” reports Milligan (2007).
“Katrina will be known as the ‘Perfect Storm’ when all elements came together to create the America’s largest tragedy ever…. it … has destroyed, decimated and derailed hundreds of thousands of lives in the Gulf Coast region” (Katrina, 2005). “For those in the Gulf Coast, if Katrina has not killed, it has destroyed your homes, businesses, employers, churches and disbursed you into new regions of the country. Katrina has separated you from spouses, children, family and friends and all that you once knew and loved…. Katrina like all tragedies, points out the heroes as well as the villains when it comes to times of crisis…. For the unspoken heroes in the Katrina tragedy, the ones who stayed, the ones who came back, the ones who fought their way to freedom and brought the young, the hurt, the sick and the elderly with them, a big thank you doesn’t seem hardly enough…. Who will ever forget the reports of medical personnel and first responders being fired upon from the watery, splintered remains in New Orleans? More stories of human beings acting their worst will emerge as time goes by, but hopefully the stories of humans at their bests will also emerge…. Time will tell the stories of the Katrina heroes, though…. Katrina will be powerless over the human spirit contained in each act of bravery, compassion and simply being of service to others during a time of intense crisis” (Katrina, 2005).
“In the terrifying moments after two planes struck the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, thousands of people ran away from the spot that would become known as Ground Zero. Yet a cadre of workers, including police officers, firefighters, emergency healthcare professionals, and construction crews, ran towards those buildings instead,” writes Farrin (2006). “After the towers collapsed, Ground Zero belched a deadly mix of hazardous materials, including mercury, silica, fiberglass, benzene and asbestos, into the air. Firefighters who worked at the site, for what became a nine-month recovery operation, did so without respirators or appropriate air-filtering masks because the masks were not available for weeks and sometimes months. Instead, they and many construction workers wore surgical masks or paper dust masks, equipment industrial safety officers say would have been practically useless as protection against the types of contaminants the workers would have been breathing into their lungs…. 283 rescue and recovery workers were diagnosed with blood-cell cancers and lymphomas, including leukemia, myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease, as well as tumors of the tongue, throat, breast, bladder, kidney, colon, intestines, lung, and testicles … 33 of the estimated 50,000 workers at the Ground Zero site have died of these diseases, a population of professionals in their 40s and 50s who might normally contract cancer at a rate of 1 per every 150,000.”
What is one Sgt. Shawn Mackey, a New Bern, N.C. native, a health care specialist with Company C, 299th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, of the US Military, doing in a village of Abidone inside the Bay Al Sabir High School of the Abu Ghraib district of Baghdad, Iraq? Sgt. Mackey is there to assess, partly, the “health of a 6-year-old Iraqi boy during a medical assistance mission in said locality…. The event was to thank the community for its continued support of coalition and Iraqi security forces by offering health and dental care to the village’s residents” reports Operation Iraqi Freedom (2007). Aside from Sgt. Mackey, there is also one Sheik Raad RAshed of the Al Amri tribe that “supports Coalition forces and the Iraqi government, even though he has lost 17 first cousins and two brothers at the hands of insurgents.” “We’re cooperating and informing (the Coalition forces and Iraqi army) about bad people here,” Shibli says. The mission to provide health care to the residents of Abidone was meant to reward people like Shibli for their sacrifices and trust in Iraqi security forces and the coalition.
“Father Kaiser, who often spoke out against abuses under the government of former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi, was found dead, with bullet wounds to his head, along a highway southwest of Nairobi,” reports (Njuguna, 2007). Father Kaiser, “a 67-year-old priest and native of Perham, Minn., had worked in Kenya for 36 years. His advocacy for human rights led to his expulsion from the country in 1999, but the government revoked its decision after an outcry in the Kenyan media and appeals from the country’s bishops.”
Arguments The heroes in the ten articles presented in this essay exemplify human courage and dedication as well as display of firmness of conviction. Is there leadership in human dedication or in courageous human acts? If so, where does it reside? I learned that one characteristic of “leadership” is “followership,” i.e., there is leader because there is at least a follower. But most of the heroes in the ten articles are individuals. Is there both a leader and at the same time a follower in everyone? In psychology, there is “duality” of human personality. This theory makes it possible for a person to become an “observer” and at the same time the “observed.” That “duality” in individuals creates internal conflicts which sometimes become a measure of an individual’s firmness of conviction. This also makes an individual a choosing agent and in so doing he/she acquires a sense of responsibility. We are our choices; we became what we are because of our decisions in life—like the choices and decisions of the dedicated people presented in the ten articles. An individual both leads himself/herself and at the same time becomes a follower to himself/herself. I like the rhetoric of Stemm (2006) who asks this question: What kind of legacy will you leave?—that is, in this world after spending a lifetime. They say, the “ideal does not exist,” but somehow, I would like to leave a memory of the ideal “leader” exemplified by all of the heroes in the ten articles presented in this paper.
Conclusion If ever I would become an influential leader, I would adopt and practice one of the items in Caldicott’s (2006) “Credo” which is to lead people “to care for this incredible planet of ours,” because so far, there is only earth among the trillions of stars in the universe.
1. Heiney, A. (12.22.06). STS-116 Delivers Permanent Power. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts116/launch/sts116_summary.html (Accessed on: Feb 27, 2007).
2. Walker, M. and Beck, J. (December 11, 2006). High-ranking female officer from Pendleton killed. NCTimes.com. http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2006/12/11/news/top_stories/12010611018.txt (Accessed on: Feb 27 2007).
3. WorldNow and WTOL (February 22, 2007). Toledo Police Officer Shot and Killed — Two Suspects Now in Custody. http://www.wtol.com/Global/story.asp?S=6117576 (Feb 27 2007).
4. Witte, B. (March 6, 2006). Smokestack rescue of 3 workers in fire was ‘heart stopper’ Copter pilot recalls ‘nightmare’ scene. boston.com News. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2006/03/06/smokestack_rescue_of_3_workers_in_fire_was_heart_stopper/ (Accessed on: February 27, 2007).
5. Associated Press (11/22/2006). Whistle-blowers helped recover $1.3B in year. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-11-22-whistleblower-money_x.htm?csp=34 (Accessed on: February 27, 2007).
6. Milligan, S. (February 2, 2007). Drinan’s courage, commitment recalled Funeral Mass said for priest, congressman. boston.com National News. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2007/02/02/drinans_courage_commitment_recalled/ (Accessed on: February 27, 2007).
7. Katrina (2005). Katrina Hurricane, Horror & Heroes. Katrina Hurricane biz. http://www.katrina-hurricane.biz/ (Accessed on: February 27, 2007).
8. Farrin, J. S. (June 12, 2006). WTC workers injured. Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. http://www.farrin.com/legal-news/personal-injury-articles/wtc-workers-injured.php (Accessed on: February 27, 2007).
9. Edgar, L. B. (25 February 2007 ). Sacrifices rewarded: Medical assistance gives back to Abidone community. Operation Iraqi Freedom. http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10185&Itemid=128 (Accessed on: February 27, 2007).
10. Njuguna, F. (February 22, 2007). FBI reps to testify at Kenyan inquest into U.S. priest’s 2000 death. Catholic news service. http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0701052.htm (Accessed on: February 27, 2007).
11. Caldicott, H. (November 12, 2006). Credo. Independent News and Media Limited. http://www.commondreams.org/views06/1112-29.htm (Accessed on: February 27, 2007).
12. Stemm, L. (2006). Leadership – What kind of Legacy will you Leave? QuadWest Associates, LLC. http://www.leadershiparticles.net/Article/Leadership—What-kind-of-Legacy-will-you-Leave-/1607 (Accessed on: February 27, 2007).