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Friday, November 21, 2008

A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity

As the book jacket of A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity says, “this time it’s personal.” Bill O’Reilly, the man so many folks love to hate (please don’t get Barney Frank started), this time around explains how he came to be the man he is. While it is doubtful that his detractors will read the book, those who admire O’Reilly, or at the least find him to be entertaining, will probably enjoy this one.

Bill O’Reilly, born in 1949, seems to have always been a bit of a rebel despite his upbringing by Depression era parents. Many of his core beliefs, such as spending wisely and saving for the future, come from that upbringing and, in fact, the core belief central to his makeup, a strong feeling that people should be treated fairly in life and that evil must be confronted and challenged, comes from watching his own parents struggle to make their way.

O’Reilly watched his father trade job security for a lifetime of stagnation in a job that never rewarded him the way he deserved to be rewarded and, as a result, the younger O’Reilly chose to be the free agent that he is today. Being an independent, as O’Reilly calls himself, allows him to look at both sides of an issue without having to worry about official party lines or whom he might offend by his position on any particular issue. His willingness to challenge those with whom he disagrees, especially those he believes to be playing unfairly or unethically, makes O’Reilly into an equal-opportunity offender. Most of the time, he has the Democratic faithful screaming for his head; at other times, the screaming comes from Republican Party faithful.

A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity is filled with stories from O’Reilly’s childhood and early career, stories that give insight into how one rebellious, non-conformist kid with a low attention span became the anti-evil crusader he is today. Whether it was designing a plot to get even with a neighbor who confiscated his group’s rubber ball when it went onto his property or driving the nuns at his Catholic school to distraction, O’Reilly was developing the nonconformist personality that he uses so effectively today.

But there is more to the man, much more. He has a sentimental side, and a hardcore loyalty to his oldest friends, that he seldom displays in public. Friends come and go in life, usually because circumstances change and neither side makes the special effort required to maintain contact over the years. O’Reilly refuses to let that happen. He feels a special bond with the people he grew up around and those he met at university or early on in his public career, and he is determined to maintain those friendships, often organizing group events that bring together a dozen or two people at a time.

The bottom line for Bill O’Reilly is that he absolutely detests unfairness and those who make their way in life by taking advantage of others. He is a firm believer in self-reliance but he knows that self-reliance works only in a social and economic system that is based on fairness. He hates the world of special privileges and, when he finds people gaming the system, he calls them out, a habit that makes a lot of people very uncomfortable.

O’Reilly lives by a simple philosophy, really. He believes that “you either fight active evil or you accept it. Doing nothing is acceptance. There is no in-between.” As he puts it, “When it is all over, when you are dead...your legacy will be defined by two simple questions: How many wrongs did you right, and how many people did you help when they needed it?”

Like him, take him or leave him, love him, or hate him, it’s hard to argue with that philosophy.

Rated at: 4.0
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