We live in a society where everyone wants to be the hero. We all want to be the star quarterback, or the winner of idol. No one cares to be the quiet individual who toils away in obscurity, but there was once a time when this lust for fame was much less common in this nation than it is today. I suspect this bygone respect for the common man also had a lot more to do with why this nation was so successful back then as compared to today, where our compassion for the “little man” is more for show than heartfelt concern.
Looking back on my days in midget football, I can see now that the role I played as left offensive tackle was as obscure as I thought it was at the time. When I was first placed in that position, I felt slighted because I was sure I should have been the quarterback, the one responsible for calling the plays and making the decisions — the guy who made “it” happen. But now that I’m older and can look backward with a bit more wisdom, I remember something I missed back then in my youth. You see, after I got over feeling sorry for myself, I put myself to being the best lineman I could be and, in my last year, I got the best offensive lineman trophy as a reward for my efforts. But there’s something more to be learned about just how important the invisible man really is.
My last game in midget football was a championship game — and we lost by four points. At the time, I didn’t see the lesson in that loss, but today I do. You see, we lost on the last play of the game. We were on the 2 yard line: six feet from winning. It was only second or third down, but there were only seconds left in the game and we were out of time outs. But the play before, my chin strap broke and I had to come out of the game. They sent in a replacement for me, but the coach still ran off left tackle. Because I had been pushing my guy around the entire game, coach just figured we could easily make two yards on my side of the ball. he was wrong, and we lost. You see, it wasn’t just any invisible, nobody lineman who had been pushing that defensive lineman around the entire game, it was me — I had been pushing him around. My replacement was not me, and he wasn’t up to the task. Now, would we have scored had I still been in the game? Most likely, yes, and I wouldn’t have gotten any of the credit. That would have gone to our running back and the coach, but it wouldn’t have happened without me — and so it didn’t. And there is the lesson of how important the little man is.
What I have learned as I’ve traveled through life is that fame is often a curse. Most of us really can’t handle it, so, if we manage to achieve it, we often waste and soon lose it. And while we’re in the spotlight, it goes to our head. rather than using our position to do good, we indulge ourselves. Too often, fame makes us into a liability rather than an asset to our cause, and far too often today, this is because our only cause is our self. I know what I’m talking about here because I’ve personally lived through the fall that comes from thinking you’re the reason for your success. Nothing can ever be further from the truth. No matter how much you do or how hard you try, success is a group effort — but not in the sense that the collectivist would have you believe. The irony of collectivism is that it deals with a singular being. I am talking about the collective efforts of many, many individuals working with and for one and other.
I decided to write this after watching “The Lead Up to D-Day.” General Eisenhower is often given a lion’s share of the credit for the success of that invasion, but, in the movie, Eisenhower’s character said something that motivated me to write. he said “I may have given the order, but once I did so, I became nothing more than a spectator. It’s up to the corporal on the beaches now.” There is so much truth in those words. In truth, no general has ever won a battle. He may have developed the plan and motivated his troops, but he never fired the shots that defeated an opposing army because wars are won by the invisible man doing his duty wherever he finds himself. For this reason, I’ve grown quite content being an invisible man who is just trying to do what he can where he can. I’m equally content to leave whatever I can’t do to the guiding hand of Providence.