Let’s replace our heroes with ideas.
What if we simply replaced all monuments and pedestals containing individuals with the ideas they purportedly represent?
I have witnessed and participating in a great many discussions about which individuals we should or shouldn’t put on pedestals. Public figures like Bill Cosby, Jared Fogle, Creflo Dollar, Barak Obama, and even MLK have been centered in these discussion. It is true whether they are actual historical figures, or regular people who play larger than life caricatures.
I have seen the faults of these individuals discussed as if their transgressions tarnished their “legacy”, and somehow by extension what they represented.
Well, I think we might want to consider another view on the whole subject of pedestals. What if we evaluated others and ourselves not on how well we measure up to public figures past and present, but on how well we measure up to ideals?
What if, instead of deciding whether or not we elevate people to hero or villain, we just abandoned that concept outside of fantastical, metaphorical stories? What do you think would happen?
Might we simply focus more on being better individuals, more supportive of positive change, than we are now? I think we might. Because at least in part, these monuments and pedestals are extensions of our own vanity. On average, people in commercialized society seem to spend more time trying to achieve the validation and recognition of heroism than on trying to live up to the ideas themselves
Preachers are worshipped as the embodiment of the God people purport to believe in.
Historical figures are argued over like bones in a yard – who was evil, who was good, who was “iffy”.
People seek to evaluate the goals of activists based on their assessment of the demeanor and characteristics of the activists themselves, rather than the ideas themselves.
This is extremely problematic, especially as amplified by modern media in all its forms. So, I am saying as an individual (nope I am not that important) – all my pedestals have ideas atop them.
I will constantly attempt to allow these ideals to inhabit me, instead of asking what an equally fallible human would do. Certainly, this is my choice and you can make yours. This does not mean that I don’t admire the actions of others. It does mean that I am choosing not to make heroes of people I have never met. It does mean that I am choosing not to make villains of those I have never met. It means that no one has the monopoly on a good thing. It means we all share in it.
The good thing about this is that we don’t have to make any law here, or start a movement. Each of us can simply decide to do this in our own brains.