Of the Pursuit of Heroes, and Why We Fail to Cheer for Them
Suddenly, all our heroes are becoming ex-heroes. Heroes these days aren't just hard to find, they're becoming as rare as honest politicians and sports stars who actually believe in a level playing field.
It may not be that people were any more heroic in days gone by; it's just that we're so much more adept at discoverng their flaws. Would Thomas Jefferson have been able to even withstand the very scrutiny of TMZ.com? "Ah, Mr. Jefferson, what exactly is your relationship with that Hemings woman?" And how would the Lincoln-Douglas debates have looked were they conducted, say, on MSNBC: "You moron, Abe!" "You idiot, Steve!"
In the glare of constant media attention and with an insatiable public appetite for scandal, even the most heroic amongst us tend to reveal unexpected flaws: Motives that aren't as pure as they should be. Follow-through that's woefully inept. Plain ol' cheating everywhere.
It's deep within the human psyche, this constant craving for someone to look up to. And over the generations, people keep on finding their heroes in sports, religion --- and, hard as it is to believe --- even politics.
The whole concept of a sports hero now sounds like an oxymoron. Look how quickly the sheen has been scuffed off of the heroic Barack Obama. Can you name any politician today that you'd call a hero?
And the most recent big news from the religious world was the so-called "Rentboy" scandal involving the co-founder of the Family Research Council, a moralistic anti-gay-rights group.
Fallen heroes everywhere. We look, we seek, we find, we celebrate our heroes. We are disappointed by them. And we never learn.
Ellis, lad, you will never know how correct you are. And though it pains me to have to say so, I fear I must agree with you on that. I have spent aeons battling that very affliction, and I cannot express in words how futile the conflict has proven to be. Hell, I've known it almost from the moment Lancelot started sleeping around with Guinevere; how else, I ask ye, didst we degenerate into that which keeps coming our way next Jerry Springer?
The sad truth, dearests, is simply that our quest for perfect role models will always be doomed to failure no matter what our best efforts are. Even our Exalted Father Merlin was not immune to this; like so many of us, he didn't see the flaw coming until it was bloomin' too late. Even now, it surprises me that this is all that our present generation is good for.
Yeah, yeah, yeah --- you probably think by now that ol' Blackwolf is being a crotchety old fart about this. Well, you know where to throw your brickbats, if thou must: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.