Hello, my name is Humanity, and I have a hero problem.
I know the concept of heroizing is varying degrees of importance from culture to culture, but many of us have a tendency to idolize and idealize those who do things we deem “good.”
Think about it: when it comes to scandals and discussion, there’s little that measures up to the attention we give “good guys” when they do something bad.
All the way back to MLK, JFK, Clinton, Nixon and many others.
We may fool ourselves into thinking we don’t do the same with non-athletes, non-politicians, non-celebrities.
The unfortunate truth is, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Winston Churchill and other oft-quoted inspirational figures did some pretty “bad” things.
Charles Lindbergh, the Minnesota boy who did the impossible, was a rabid anti-Semite. We deemed it appropriate to name an airport after him.
Margaret Sanger, the courageous pioneer of women’s reproductive rights, was a follower of the pseudo-science of eugenics, which sought to eliminate all non-white people.
Our founding fathers, so revered and over-used by modern politicians, crafted a constitution based on the principles of the supremacy of white male land-owners over all others.
Sorry folks, but I’ve got to give you my own personal inconvenient truth: heroes don’t exist. They never have.
Before the digital age and the time of widespread literacy and philosophical education, they appeared to be everywhere. Anyone who did a good thing for a lot of people was a hero, revered forevermore, immortalized in art and held up as the ideal human.
The problem is that doing something good or right doesn’t erase your humanity. You’re still prone to mistakes, you’re still prone to double standards and you may go on to do bad things, even after the good.
What’s more, we’re now aware that no one person, organization or culture has the market cornered on morality. As much as our congresswoman may assert, all cultures are created equal.
We can dispute customs that are different from ours and apply universal standards of humanity, but there isn’t one right way to feel, think and see the world anymore.
The point is that we, humanity, have evolved past the hero. It’s archaic. It no longer fits with our demands of human beings.
It’s time to move on to celebrating deeds, actions, thoughts, progress and ideas.
Don’t put the pressure of heroism on your favorite athlete, or deem the most brilliant scientist in the world a model for all areas of life.
Take only the good things and strive to those ideals.
We don’t live in a day of forced worship; you won’t be burned at the stake for picking and choosing your morals independent of a role model.
Maybe this is all too much for you. Maybe you can’t do without your heroes.
That’s your business and your right, but I fear your come-down.