Sunday, June 5, 2016

Ali. Death of a beautiful person.

Yesterday the news that many had been waiting to hear was finally announced: Mohammad Ali was dead at the age of 74.
He had been dying more visibly than most, his physical and mental faculties ravaged by Parkinson's Disease.
In his prime Ali transcended his fellow mortals. He was dazzling and ruthless as a prize-fighter, he was eloquent and witty in his speech, he was uncannily prophetic in his knockout predictions in many of his bouts, he was courageous in his convictions about refusing the draft to the Vietnam war ( "I got no quarrel with those Viet Cong people") and he was valiant and dignified in his final contest with the degeneration of his brain.
After his proclamation "I am the greatest!" when he knocked out Sonny Liston, many people dismissed him as a big mouthed braggart, but in the next fifteen years he made good on his self assessment: he really was the greatest.
The greatest boxer of his generation, the greatest sportsman of his era and the greatest of souls in his magnanimity towards people from all walks of life.
Long after he had retired and when the quickness of his wit and his fists had left him, he stood before an assembly of hundreds of Harvard students. They were chanting "Give us a last poem Ali!"
After hesitating for a moment, a sudden twinkle came into his eye.
He placed an unsteady hand on his chest and said in a clear voice:
"ME" and then, pointing to the audience in a gesture of embrace, said,"WE".  The place came unglued!
"ME & WE"
Quite a poem, and if that is the second commandment, Ali, you showed us how to keep it.
Go well my friend.