Recently I found myself reading a short list of hero’s posted by a friend on Facebook. The list was made up of various individuals that the person holds on high esteem. The reason they make his list is due to him considering all the individuals on it to be well rounded freethinkers, but that does not really matter. Many of us have our own such lists, for various reasons. Rangeing from the logical to the silly.
My list would grow over time (I tend to not be to the best at these spur of the moment type situations), and would likley be mostly influences that helped shape me.
– Bill Maher
– Bernie Sanders
– George Carlin
– Marilyn Manson
Why we make the lists does not matter. What is more important, is how we regaurd the people on it. Though I had not really thought about (realized?) it before, it occured to me that I no longer really have any hero’s. Don’t get me wrong, there are still people I look up to. But I don’t consider them hero’s, even simply as an expression of gratitude.
There are many contexts to how the word can be used with regards to such list’s as this. Sometimes it has less to do with the definition than it does with the ease of useage (“These people are my heroes!” as opposed to “These are people I really look up to”). Or sometimes, they may in fact view the person as being, superior in comparison to everyone else.
Either way, both of these phenomena can be risky (even dangerous). Particularly the latter, being the often irrational (and thus often unchangeable) nature of the positive feelings. But anyone is capable of cognitive dissonance.
Having people you look up to is one thing. So long as you can still express criticism if it becomes necessary. But more importantly, you need to be still able to see them as just another human, capable of ALL human traits (we often forget the bad in the case of heroes).
It’s something that one sees over and over.
One example that comes to mind is Bill Cosby. Another, Michael Jackson. This is another list that could likely go on for pages. And that’s not even counting the everyday psychopaths, liars, cheats and other skum that permeate our own lives. People that will never make People Magazine or US weekly (or Newsweek), but none the less, people still capable of inflicting a lot of harm on a person (priests/minister’s? Organized religion PERIOD?). And not just harm in the context of supporting a scumbag. We’re talking financial, possibility even physical harm.
That, got very dark in a hurry, considering I started from a context of just not being able to properly criticize such people. But though that is at the more harmless end of the spectrum (with something like Jonestown being at the other end), there is still a lot in the middle.
Basically, if you have EVER spoken (or even THOUGHT) the phrase “He\She\They would never do that because they are ___________”, this is for you. It does not matter what fills in the blank. The more influential trait is the trait of simply being human.
Everywhere, there are all kinds of people. Good, bad, and everything in between. This does not change when you throw some label on top of the mix. In fact, depending on the feel of the label, it may actually attract bad people. An obvious religious example comes to mind. But it is far from the only one. It’s good for you to come up with a few of your own.
So to cap this off, it is okay to look up to people you respect. But just do not forget that:
1.) They to, are capable of being wrong
2.) They are just as human as you and I, for better or worse