Michael J. Fox continues to battle against the Parkinson’s disease that struck him mid-career — and which he bravely revealed to the world in 1991, when he was 29 years old. The actor, who had every reason to disappear from public view and to give in to self-pity, instead chose the opposite, becoming a high-profile public figure raising awareness and funds to help discover a cure and treatment for millions of people afflicted as he is — with a physical condition over which neither fame nor fortune holds dominion.
Former First Lady and Secretary Hillary Clinton interviewed Fox for a Clinton Global Initiative program and asked him to explain his unlikely optimism. His powerful answer — the moment — Clinton says will “stick with me for a long, long time.”
Fox clearly wrestles with his words and body as he responds. “Well just the very fact that we’re here right now talking about this is a positive thing,” Fox says. “And a responsibility and an opportunity and a privilege we all have to move the ball forward whether it’s in world peace or whether it’s in climate change or whether it’s in disease cure and prevention, we can be grateful for the fact that we can get together and do this.”
It’s virtually the same answer — in condensed form — that Fox gives over and over in his many books, even as there he candidly explores his darker moments when the optimism can’t break through the despair.
In a divided society, Fox’s courage in the face of his fate shows a fortitude that can only be admired. Most of the commenters reflect this idea with one writing “I wish I had 1% of that man’s strength, courage, and determination” while another said “Shame on me should I ever think that I have it tough. So inspiring/encouraging.”
Some partisans couldn’t look past their politics, however, even after watching Fox’s courage on display. Many of the comments focused instead on an insatiable enmity for Clinton that overrides any sense of awe for Fox’s strength.