I’ve been tagged. AGAIN!
Gonzo wants to know who my heroes are.. and, I’ve been avoiding answering for the past couple of days... not because I'm anti-meme, but because I’m a little bit anti-hero..
I fully realize the importance of having people to look up to, people who inspire us and show us human capabilities put into action but, there is something about the idea of a "hero" that bothers me. It's always felt superficial, hypocritical and one dimensional. The Einstein's, Martin Luther King and Madonna’s of the world are no doubt talented people who have accomplished a lot, but to consider them my personal heroes? I just don’t relate to them. They have talents, qualities, abilities that I cant even fathom having, so how can that inspire me? We aren’t made of the same substance. Whatever they’ve accomplished has come at a price that I’m not necessarily ready or able to pay. To judge myself according to their success without taking into consideration their sacrifices is pointless. It’s not an accurate perception and only skews how I view my own capabilities.
I also feel like most typical heroes have accomplished feats which are publicly recognizable and tangible, and those things don’t usually impress me. I have no desire to invent something or to receive the noble prize or to accumulate any kind of material possessions. The kinds of things that impress me are usually things that very few people know, that seem small and unnoticeable or that end up changing the lives of very few.
I can admire certain heroic feats, or heroic qualities, but I can’t say that I have a "hero" - someone I look up to and try to emulate.
I admire people who can hold strong opinions, yet continue to learn and question and even change their views when presented with solid contrary evidence. Intellectual honesty is admirable.
I admire people who were able to hold on to their faith in the face of atrocities and extreme suffering, people who were able to trust their innate connection to G-d and fight to keep it despite the strong temptation to distance themselves.
I admire parents for working tirelessly to build a warm and safe home, for putting their children’s needs before theirs and for teaching strong values such as honesty, empathy, loyalty, and responsibility.
I admire baalei teshuva who not only caught up to their ffb counterparts but surpassed them in knowledge, dedication and character development.
I admire nonconformists who are not afraid of being humble, looked down upon, or made fun of in the name of doing the ”right” thing. I admire people who’ve made the correct moral choices when they could easily have gotten away with doing the wrong thing, people whose barometer of success is a clean conscience.
I admire those make do with little, appreciate what they have, and overcome their sense of despair, frustration and fear.
Despite how corny this sounds, the truth is that when I need to feel inspired and need a boost to get through a difficult time, I will often look back at what I have accomplished myself. I can view my challenges in the context of my life, my abilities, my weaknesses - it seems to be the most accurate. Only when I take all these into consideration can I really evaluate a hero. Since no one else shares these with me.. I guess I have to be my own hero.
hmm.. now I need a cool superhero cape..
Deconstructing the 'Somebody' Mystique :
Why should we demystify somebodies? We love our heroes. We worship geniuses. We're fascinated by celebrities. Why not leave them on their pedestals?
The idea that "somebody knows" is reassuring, comforting. Long before we discover that our parents and teachers are neither omniscient nor omnipotent, we are introduced to historical figures - religious and political leaders, scientists, and artists - who replace them in our adult imaginations. We leave school with the impression that these cultural icons are superhuman, a breed apart that stands in relation to us as we do to chimpanzees.
But excessive fascination with somebodies can interfere with our own mature pursuits of due recognition. Up to a point, role models are useful in this enterprise, and so are heroes. They open our minds to what we might make of ourselves. But if we idealize and romanticize them, or focus on the symbols and rewards of their success we miss the real story.
Instead of simply adulating famous persons, we should try to understand the conditions that allow for their emergence.
This means we must disenthrall ourselves with the somebody mystique. Imitating the hero's lifestyle does not give us his or her powers. Artists who rent garrets in Paris and writers who hang out at the Algonquin Hotel do not thereby further their creative endeavors. When childres play dress-up, they are preparing themselves for adulthood. WHen adults do it, they are mistaking lifestyle for life.
Dispelling the somebody mystique will require the creation of a new
understanding of somebodies. Just as we are weaned from our parents, so we demystify our idols if we are to realize ourselves fully as adults. In neither case does this mean disparagin those upon whom we have been dependent."
From Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank by Robert W. Fuller