Friday, September 3, 2021

Hero Worship

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 5 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. 

My “Secret Subject” is:

Who is your hero? Why?

It was submitted by:

I don't really have heroes. Not in the sense people usually mean by that.

There isnt a single person I know who I think belongs on a pedestal. we're all flawed. Even Fred Rogers had flaws. Bob Ross, too. And the danger of having a hero is how hurt we can get because of hero worship...because idolizing someone can lead to going a bit overboard with the adoration and adulation and inevitably that image we built up isn't going to hold. I know that's not how everyone thinks, and I realize a lot of people would answer this question with a tear-inducing story about a parent or sibling or spouse or maybe just a best friend. I get the desire to brag about someone you love, I do, but the last four years of Trump being president, the contentious elections of my adulthood, losing friends because I criticized a candidate they thought I should vote for, and seeing even Trump be booed by his own base because he suggested getting vaccinated while they still scream he's the rightful president has taught me a lot of things about being careful of where I put folks and to be realistic. Having the family I did hasn't helped that much either.

People can do heroic things. I'm not at all arguing that. People can be good and kind and genuine while still having flaws though. Maybe people can be mostly heroes, outright heroes, or at least the heroes of our stories. But I think there is danger in the way we turn people into who we want them to be instead of the reality of their wholeness. No one should be on a pedestal above others. No one is above criticism or change or growth no matter what greatness they may also embody. It's part of being human.

And unfortunately another part of being human is looking at folks through rose colored glasses up until the moment our image of them is shattered and that can be just as true of a friend or loved one as it is a celebrity or veteran or politician. No one's image has to shatter though if we allow them to be fully flawed as much as the rest of us. Maybe holding room for people to fuck up lets us forgive easier. Maybe it lets *them* be better. None of us has all the answers and everyone we know will make mistakes that hurt others intentionally or not. Maybe letting your hero be a regular ass person, a whole person, also lets them consider perspectives other than their own. Maybe it means they go into every decision (especially a politician) realizing they're no better than anyone else and no better qualified to make a solitary answer.

I think it's possible though to see the heroic sides of people and internalize them without the same dangers. There are aspects of people we should hold up as examples for everyone else. We can be kind and open and genuine like Fred Rogers and use whatever platform we have to lead by example. Fred Rogers washed his feet in a play pool with a Black man at a time when pool owners were pouring acid in their pools to keep Black people out. And he did it without comment. He just did it. On tv. On a kid's show. But Fred also asked that man to hide that he was gay because it could hurt the platform. Is there a better answer to that dilemma in the 60s? I don't know. I don't think he knew. I don't think the gay man himself knew. But it also wasn't heroic. So hold up the parts of Fred that make us better people. Love animals like Steve Irwin. See the beauty in everything like him, in creatures other people don't understand, and teach them about those things. But maybe also don't annoy crocodiles. Bob Ross's painting methods were another man's idea and Bob took them and ran with it. But he painted for very little money for decades and made people accept themselves as who they are and life as beautiful even when we make mistakes. These are still people I turn to when I feel down or when I dont have the answers and they're people I've always wanted to be like. I've always wanted to be like Bea Arthur who took every opportunity to drill home that people's differences should be embraced not hated or hidden. And I want to be like Wanda Jackson, a woman who played rock when it wasn't allowed and whose band was Black (she's white) and who refused to play at any venue that wouldn't accept them even if her manager said it would ruin her career. Women who were held back just because they're women STILL made sure that they left no one behind in their demands and desire for equality. Betty White did the same about Black members of her show's band. Does that mean they did so perfectly? That they're heroes above criticism? No. Not at all. None of us are. But we have perfect examples of men and women and everyone in between doing the right things for the sake of doing the right thing, doing things to make the entire world a better place. They don't need to be heroes for us to learn from them at both their best and their worst--who to be and who not to be. And both are *equally* important.

So if anything I've done a Weird Science for my hero. I've put all the best parts of people I admire into my little brain computer and I've come up with a version of myself I try to be day after day. And I don't do it perfectly either, but I'm doing my best and that's about all anyone should expect.

Links to others: 


  1. Everyone has a piece of a hero in them, we just have to look for it.

  2. I think we've all been taught what happens when people start treating people like that. I don't think I have heroes but more certain qualities that people have I admire. Every one has the ability to do or bad it all depends on where their hearts are coming from and as you well know there's a hell of a lot of heartless going on.

  3. I think considering the struggles you keep having, you're a hero yourself, keeping your chin up, looking after your son, your pets and yourself with very limited resources!

  4. That's probably the best way to look at it. Create your own hero from the best parts of people who deserve it.