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Jewish World Review Oct. 24, 2003 / 28 Tishrei 5764

Steve Young

Steve Young
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RUSH'S FAILURE CREATES POSSIBILITIES FOR US ALL: A Thank You To JWR Readers | For my book, "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR. ), I spoke with many of the most successful personalities (John Wooden, Jane Goodall, Johnny Unitas, Betty White, Michael Medved, Pat Boone to name a few) in any number of businesses and ideologies who all spoke to the seemingly negative moments in their lives that ended up becoming some of the best things that ever happened to them. Whether the experiences came from the world of entertainment, sports, science, literature, politics or straight commerce, their stories all support the thesis that "failure can be a stepping stone to success;" that it can be argued, in fact, that it is necessary for any positive growth.

I included over 300 notable quotes and examples of apparent mistakes, loss and disappointments which resulted in significant discovery, unexpected joy and eventual triumph. Certainly when we're in the midst of a crisis the good of it isn't all that evident. How many times have we wanted to clobber the person who tells us "It's for the best," or "When one door closes another opens."

And now as Rush Limbaugh wrestles with his emotional and physical demons, the lemonade that he might squeeze from his lemons may not be all that conspicuous. So it is for us, the certain and the unaffected to glom onto the opportunity.

Obviously the pronouncement that drug addiction is bad and painkillers inappropriately used can kill more than just the pain, is a given. That someone so presumably immune by wealth and success to the weaknesses that were thought to only affect the incorrigible and hopeless, in itself will open some eyes to the indiscriminate and insidious readiness that addiction maintains.

But there's another possibility that lies somewhere under the radar: a genuine human connection

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As you know I write a regular column for; the rather conservative It's O'Reilly, Coulter, Limbaugh, Medved, etc...and me. The flaming liberal that I am, I'm sure our poor editor is still sorry he ever committed to giving me space. My standard (yet extremely clever) diatribes regularly take on the present administration with a concerted focus on the "alleged" bias of Talk Radio. For that, surprise, the site and my e-mailbox is habitually blistered with reams of hate (dislike) mail from irate (but exceptionally bright) conservatives.

Last week I changed course and wrote an "Open Letter To Rush" . In it I spoke, not of the divisiveness of Talk Radio, but of the bond that mind-altering influences and dependency provokes. And not in the active drug world. No matter how it might appear that druggies and alcoholics collect in the same disconsolate arenas, it only camouflages the loneliness of their existence. Ask Rush. What I spoke of was the connection and the giving to one another that is absolutely necessary if one hopes for recovery. Of course, it is my own opinion, but as a recovering alcoholic for the past 14 years, I can attest to that truth for me.

I thought that would be it and I awaited the normal deluge of conservative "what right did this leftie have in integrated himself into our lord and master Rush's misery" R-rated e-mail. Instead, to my surprise, what I received was the titillation one only gets from a G-d-given gift he never expects; thanks. Thanks from both the Right and the Left. Thanks that there can be civility between ideologies. Thanks that you can hear what is said by another when you say it through understanding not vile combat and demeaning vitriol. You really want to know how surprising? Ann Coulter wrote to congratulate me on a "great article and congratulations for being a compassionate liberal" albeit a "rare one."

And for this I would personally like to thank you readers for your stronger than ideology willingness and understanding. I received so many wonderful acknowledgments from people who, I'm sure, thought that I would be the last person they'd ever send a thank you to. From good people like from Conservative Mike....

Thanks, Steve, for being willing to showcase the humanity so many of your liberal companions lack.

Or Frank...

I'm very conservative, but I have great respect for intellectually honest liberals like yourself. Without the same kind of support you have offered Rush, I would still be an active drunk.

Or even Thecla

Since the Rush story broke, I have been waiting for ONE liberal writer to say what - to my mind - is the ONLY decent thing to say to a man in this situation: You are an adversary; you are down on the knee. I wish you recovery so we may fight again. You are the only writer I have read who has managed it. Thank you. When your hate overcomes your ability to at least pray for someone's good, then you've given yourself over to that hate, and you are lost. I really appreciated your column. Thanks a lot.

And Richard...

Thank you for your article on Rush L. My distaste for Lib's has been tempered by your compassion for your fellow human being. We will never meet, but have a drink with me tonight (Pepsi of course). Thanks.

But it was Marilyn who said it better than I could have ever...

I find it disturbing when both Conservatives and Liberals say that the other side is trying to destroy peoples' lives, and appear to relish situations when someone from the other side stumbles. Personally, I think that almost everyone across the political spectrum shares a common goal of making peoples lives better. Where we disagree, is the way to do it. When we, as citizens, become so obsessed with the belief that "Our way is the only way" and choose our friends and associates based only on whether they agree with us, we deny ourselves the opportunity to become better then we are. Both sides have some good ideas. Someday, I hope that everyone might stop yelling long enough to listen. If the politicians, journalists and media pundits, conservative and liberal, would start to remind people that, political ideology is not the most important thing in the universe, we as citizens might be able to get back to more important things, like friends, family, and civil conversation. Who knows, maybe true progress will evolve from compromise rather than conflict.

As Marilyn has written so eloquently, there is hope. The only change I might make to her comments is that in this particular case, progress can evolve from conflict. That being Rush's very public hardship. But it is up to us, conservative, liberals and anything in between, to take the actions necessary to cultivate the progress from it so we disarm the blaring political voices from all sides, that we might hear what one another is saying. If wait for things to get better, it just won't. Not on their own. For the only real failures comes from opportunities we don't act upon. Don't let that happen. It would be a shame to waste this opportunity to make this failure a stepping stone to success.

P.S. I will continue to convey my beliefs but I will make every attempt to do it quietly enough that I'll still be able to hear your voices.

JWR contributor Steve Young, Prism Award winner and Humanitas Prize nominee for his television writing, is contributing editor at the Writers Guild of America's "Written By" magazine. He is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful: Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Stepping Stones to Success," "The 130 Tales of Winchell Mink," Harper Collins (Winter, 2003) and the director/writer of "My Dinner With Ovitz." His website is Comment by clicking here.

10/16/03: This ‘flaming lib’'s wishes for Limbaugh
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09/21/01: OPEN LETTER THE MOST HIGH (RE: Falwell and Robertson comments)
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08/21/01: It Depends On What Your Definition Of "Unlimited" Is


© 2002, Steve Young