What is it about society in general that leads us to elevate those that display something “extra”.
An educated guess is that when someone demonstrates a little less “ordinary” and a lot more “extraordinary”, as a rule, we roll out the proverbial band wagon, complete with red carpet and pedestal, all to adulate that little extra something our chosen deity promises to deliver unto us, the “huddled masses”, time and time again.
Yet, for reasons beyond logic, we’re all shocked and horrified when we suddenly wake up to the fact these idols we’ve raised beyond the stratosphere are anything but gods.
The view from way up there has to be amazing, yet terrifying, all at once.
Just like the mob that set out to destroy Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, we all mass together at the discovery, sporting pitchforks and torches, determined to rid the earth the abomination in question. And…when we set out to destroy, it’s an absolute that our target will be forever obliterated. Nothing less than total annihilation will suffice!
What continually surprises me though is that we, the idolaters, never seem to recognize that it is us, the mob to be, that blindly elevate the person, and yes, they are persons, as fallible and prone to ego as any one of us, upward and onward, towards those dizzying heights from which they will inevitably fall. And…make no mistake, it’s a long, hard fall!
We’re always so shocked when we discover that they’ve committed some moral offence. And equally shocking is how quickly we all seem to turn upon them, deriding every act as if they’ve committed sins so deeply unforgivable that God himself could never again look upon them.
Sadly, some of the offences are right up there in the shock department. And if it was a neighbour that had committed the act, we’d be just as shocked. Or would we.
Take Oscar Pistorious as an example. Alleged to have purported a crime of passion against his model girlfriend. We’re all out in droves, wielding judgement and scorn as our tools of destruction as he’s being processed for his new role as jailbird. He’s sobbing at every given photo-op, very likely due to both the realization that he’s just destroyed himself on pretty much every level, and that he’s taken a life during that unfortunate night of passionate insanity.
Now, had this been the “good” neighbour down the street, do you think for one second this heated act of criminality would have garnered both the attention and public outrage that Pistorious has engendered in all of us? Sure, those of us living on the block, and perhaps within that city would have felt some of the emotions we’re directing towards this fallen idol. But honestly, we’d not be as angry and let down.
But let’s be frank. WHY are we feeling let down. Does it have something to do with him, personally?
Although we all like to “think” we know something about Oscar, the truth is, we know very little. What we all saw was this seemingly nice guy that overcame incredible odds to do something no man has ever done before. And yes, we all cheered and took him into our hearts when we saw pictures in the media of him inspiring young amputees to follow his lead.
Kinda makes you feel like picking up a box full of kittens, just because!
And…his crime? Kinda makes you feel like he set that box of kittens on fire. And, here we all are, angry and filled with condemnation at the fact that this man dared to disappoint.
What we really need to be doing is examining ourselves a little more closely.
We, as a society, tend to embrace “image”. We all assume that a person filled with that much determination and moxy has to be filled with goodness as well. But, the sad reality is that people who have that much ambition are often ego-maniacal butt-wipes that would destroy anyone standing in their way. And more often than not, they’ll take full advantage of any given photo-op to try to mask the truth about who they are, all in an effort to keep themselves up there, way up there, for us to continue idolizing like tweenage girls at a Justin Beiber concert.
The truth about ambition is that you can never truly be “nice” if you want to win. You have to have “killer” built into your DNA. Now, we all like to think about the “Casey Goes To Bat” or “The Little Red Engine That Could” scenarios when we set out to worship the graven images we create, but the sad fact is that “nice” didn’t help Tiger Woods break through that proverbial gate in the “Old Boys Club” in golf.
In another reality, he’d have served drinks, or washed dishes in that same club.
Weren’t we all horrified to find out he was a class “A” douchebag? And, instead of feeling shocked when we learned his wife used a sand wedge to play the greens with his SUV, we cheered. Why? Because he dared to be the one thing he could never be in our eyes…a flawed human being.
When you’re a “good” person, and something insurmountably difficult occurs, it’s our nature as human beings to cheer when that smiling winner shows that little extra something, and overcomes the odds.
Lance Armstrong is the perfect example. Because of him, rubber bracelets were on everybody’s wrists. We all rooted for his Herculean efforts during those seven Tour Du France wins. He lost a testicle, but gained the world.
Then, right around the time the doping accusations reached a crescendo, Lance started showing his true colours. As it turns out, that “nice guy” was anything but. And pretty much everyone on this planet turned heel on the heel in question. But, what we should have asked ourselves was why did we fall for the hype? Why were we so horrified and shocked at the realization that Lance was a lying bully of a con man. Truly, he was right up there with the baby killers and Attila The Hun on the Hate-O-Meter.
We, as a society, are honestly much too focused on the art of building people into myths. It’s human nature to do so, considering the good vibe we all get from seeing a “hero” run down that challenge. In some way, it tends to spur us on within our own challenges. Nothing is wrong with wanting to emulate a chosen role model. However, in all honesty, we really need to stop expecting human beings to be anything but, no matter how “super” human they appear to us in the press.
Perhaps then, when they show up looking less than perfect before the media lenses, we, as a species, will simply turn the channel or the page. With that simple act, we can forego falling as far down as they, the worshipped, clearly have, and look into our own mirrors at a person that is truly deserving of a little self-applied pat on the back!