The aging streets of Philadelphia are not where you’d think to find the answer to this ancient question. Yet here it is, in this run-down section of town inside this run-down building with the peeling name: “Joe Frazier’s Gym.”
You all know the name Mohamed Ali. But you don’t all remember the name Joe Frazier. Only the best heavyweight fighter Aii ever faced, but who never caught a piece of Ali’s fame. In fact, Ali and the sports media taunted Joe in their title bouts because he was all guts and no glitz. So Smokin’ Joe went to his death last year as one of history’s legions of forgotten also-rans.
But now, ladies and gents, gather round the City of Brotherly Love, for it’s planning to honor Joe. Belatedly…! That rotten little word, belatedly…! Meaning, gee we didn’t notice you when you were here, but now we’re going to belatedly pay you the tribute we denied you when we had the chance.
Oh my, but history is crowded with folks who have found — more accurately have been given — life after death. An enduring life in words, music and especially recurring retelling around the tribal campfires.
Let us count the ways: Moses…Socrates…Jesus…Francis of Assisi…Joan of Arc…Ann Boleyn…Galileo… Paul Revere…Robert E Lee…John T. Scopes…Wendell Wilkie…Adlai Stevenson…my Uncle Joe. Well, Joe was a loser and there’ve been damn few belated anything’s for Joe. But there will be other losers granted a glorious life-after-death. It’s just kinda the way people are about people.
So the next time a College or Facebook discussion launches the eternal question “Is there any eternity?”
just remember. If you and I don’t find it after OUR deaths, some folks may just decide to create one for us anyway. Before THEIR deaths. It’s a nice way to say I’m sorry….
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