Dancing With the Amputees

Should Noah Galloway have advanced to the finals of Dancing With The Stars because he is a “wounded warrior” who demonstrated incredible athleticism and mental tenacity despite his physical handicaps? Or should Natsia Liukin have advanced because she was by far the better if not best dancer in the competition having performed a breathtaking Viennese Waltz the likes of nothing we’ve ever seen before? The answer is actually simple. It’s whoever you “feel” deserves to win.

DWTS, like American Idol and other audience call-in shows, is an exercise of the popular vote. But that’s democracy, you say. Yes, it is, and it’s great entertainment, but it’s not competition. Popular votes can in fact be problematic. Each of us, and I do stress each of us, has our own personal agenda subjectively tipping the compass-needle in our brains as fueled by a heritage of experiences, preferences, biases, beliefs and fears.

Add to this the cultural cancer I call FOABIA (pronounced “phobia”), an acronym I made up that stands for Fear Of Appearing Bigoted In America. While it’s a very good thing to actually NOT be bigoted, FOABIA is a political weapon and an ever growing assault on everyone’s freedom of speech and, yes, even freedom of thought! We all know the segments of our society that are “hands off” and immune from constructive criticism. FOABIA had been exploited to influence elections, curtail honest debate, grow government spending by “justifying” dependency, and actually handicap those it quarantines. The popular vote becomes nothing more than an opportunity for the individual agendas of the masses to be voiced and tallied.  That said, there remains a segment of our society that will always play the game honorably within the rules of fairness and for the greater good.  Ironically, they are the segment not protected by FOABIA.

So what about competition? Should we reinvent the hundred-yard-dash, so that wheel-chair bound contestants may have their own finish-line only twenty yards away, while everyone else runs the full length? Or, should the contest be open for anyone who wishes to enter, but the rules apply equally to all? Appearances to the contrary, I voice these questions sincerely and seriously. Where as a society do we want to go?

In grade-school and high-school, I was always the last person picked when team-leaders chose squads in gym class. I hated gym as much as I hated myself for being what I believed to be a cowardly weakling. It did a number on my head. But it also did something else. It motivated me. It taught me that these are the harsh rules of life, and now that I realize how the game is played, I will make myself better if it’s the last f#@%ing thing I do. And thus, I began to focus on my strengths and not my weaknesses. I “set the bar” always just out of my reach…. and I began the stretch that has motivated me all my life. When I look back, I am thankful for the competition and pain of those gym classes, not to mention all the other trials and tragedies and failures and bullying and illnesses of my life, for it was those monsters and demons that inspired me to become who I am today.

For me, Noah Galloway is a hero, and providing him a public platform like DWTS provides America with some much needed inspiration. But does he deserve to win the competition? Like I said, that’s your call.  Peace, love, dove homies.

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