A perfect attestation of that broadcasting absence is the towering figure and icon Charlton Heston, who just passed away on Saturday (after I had already written most of this column). Outside of his monumental contributions to stage and screen, the media have given only scant mention to his activism through the years, largely because it was tenaciously conservative.
I remember during the Gulf War, when Heston attacked CNN for "sowing doubts" about the allied efforts. As one news report conveyed, "With age, he grew more conservative and campaigned for conservative candidates. ... His latter-day activism almost overshadowed his achievements as an actor, which were considerable."
One of his most notable jabs was delivered in 1998 as the president of the NRA to the then-President Clinton, ''America doesn't trust you with our 21-year-old daughters, and we sure, Lord, don't trust you with our guns.'' In 2003, he was suitably awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. Heston, like Douglas, understood that we're called to use who we are to serve the greater good.
Kirk recounts how someone once told him, "Be ashamed to die before doing something for humanity." That is why he purports: "As you get older you must think more of other people. You must strive to help other people." Then he offers this generational plea: "Who needs the most help but the young? What kind of a world are we leaving them?"
Dr. Anthony Campolo once did a study in which 50 people over the age of 95 were asked, "If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?" An array of responses came from these eldest of senior citizens. However, three answers constantly surfaced far more than others. If I had it to do over again, I would reflect more. If I had it to do over again, I would risk more. If I had it to do over again, I would do more things that would live on after I am dead.
It's great to see people like Kirk Douglas still reflecting, risking and advancing his legacy. He's a good model for all of us in this respect.
If Bob Hope supported our troops until 100, George Burns made us laugh until 100, Charlton Heston showed us what conservative activism looks like at 84, and Kirk Douglas is still writing and an activist at 91, then you and I have the second half of our lives to continue to make an impact on this planet.
Abraham Lincoln was correct: "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
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