GREENWOOD — I am 60-ish and anxious about the future. My perspective on the death of Robin Williams may touch others of my vintage in a different way than those either older or younger. Yet there is so much of him that is as fresh today as it was when I first heard or saw it.
He was our age, he looked like us, he talked like us, he thought like us. He winked, twinkled, cried and laughed like us. He said the things we thought, the things we wanted to think and the things we had not thought of yet. He lived in a special time continuum that was familiar to us.
He, like us, knew exactly where he was when Kennedy got shot, when the first lunar step was taken “for all mankind” and when our Olympic athletes raised a defiant fist. He, like us, mourned the early passing of Bobby and Martin and a host of others poised to do so much that needs to be done.
Robin soothed us, challenged us, tickled us and touched us. He became our Will Rogers. He did not ask for permission to entertain us. He seized the stage, the screen and the moment at will. Whenever he saw the opportunity to help, he did. He could smile for a child or talk to a gorilla and be understood.
He emoted for us in ways that we could not imagine. There is so much to do and seemingly so few of us to do it. Who will launch another generation of irreverence that we embrace? Moreover, who will carry this one forward?
There is so much doing that needs to be done.
Conflict abounds in our world. Read anything, see anything and hear anything. It’s nation against nation, tribe against tribe, religion against religion, ideology against ideology and race against race. We are surrounded by hatred and bullying, by distrust and greed, and by envy and ignorance. Ignorance: That’s the big one, that’s the one he seemed to always conquer often with laughter and with words.
Most pitiful is not our nation’s inability to lead the world, but that we are so inept at finding the path to lead ourselves. We know what is right, yet we do what is wrong. In the quiet of the dawn or the din of the day or the pounding of the night, Robin Williams’ irreverence cut through it like an alien weapon through Jell-O. Protect and soothe the child, bring laughter to the wounded and comfort the scared.
As a nation, we now mostly pick and choose whom we help based on polls.
Where are the leaders to lead us? When will the majority of us who want to just do the right things do them? I want my leaders to actually get out in front and confront the bullies of the world, whether they take aim at a child, an animal or a perverse culture.
Robin Williams was a leader; he, in his special way, took us where we needed to go. He offered regular doses of compassion and laughter. He made us look at ourselves in ways that challenged and shocked us and understood who we were.
“Good morning, Vietnam.” “Wake up, America!”
When you wake up tomorrow, the day after that and perhaps until you get word from Ork that it’s “all clear,” do something! Voice outrage, vote for a new guy, sweep a street, hug a neighbor, make someone laugh, give to charity – I don’t give a hoot what you do, but do something. Please. The status quo, after all, is an end, not a beginning.
And maybe, just maybe … collectively we might fill the huge void he left and follow the path he set. We are still here, and we are capable of most anything – that’s us, America. It’s who we have been and who we need to be again: a nation of doers.
— Special to the Press Herald