Saturday, June 12, 2010

On Heroes

Anyone who has encountered my Internet ramblings over the last decade or so knows that I am not by nature into Hero Worship. Far from it. I am by nature a Skeptic and when the Spirit moves me I am a Rebel.

This has put me in the oddly ironic position of being seen as a Hero by others, something I find both inappropriate and grating.

Hero-worship has always been part of the political framework in this country, starting with George Washington, Father of Our Country, etc. None of his successors has quite matched his Heroic Stature, of course, but the idea that a President should be Heroic is deeply ingrained in the American psyche.

Obama inherited the Heroic Mantle of the Presidency when he ascended to the Throne, and as we know, his Heroic Stature has been frittering away ever since. It's bee One Damned Thing after another and all that.

And on the Internets, there is a kind of passionate level of Hero Worship, for all kinds of people, that almost makes me ill to witness. Whether it is Obama or Sarah or Glenn or Jane or some TV character or movie star, the Internet is rife with Heroic action figures and their devotees.

To me, Hero Worship is dangerous and foolish both for the object and for the subject.

Skepticism is always appropriate. Not partisan devotion; skepticism.

But that seems to be a rare characteristic among human-kind.

And getting rarer.


  1. Dear Che,

    Why do you think this is? I find myself frustrated and sometimes incredulous when I read comments at places like GG and FDL.

    I'm really curious as to your thoughts on the "why".


  2. Gwen,

    Darned if I know the answer to your question, but my suspicions run as follows:

    First, Hero-worship is deep-seated human nature. Skepticism is almost always the outlier, not the usual state of mind at all.

    People want to accept the declarations of Authority. Even if they are part of Authority. At least that's my perception from working in Government as long as I did and dealing with the public as much as I have.

    Even so, I always encouraged skepticism even when I was in a position of Authority. "Don't accept my word for it; check it out for yourself." That didn't always sit well among my colleagues. To say the least.

    And I always expect those in Authority to be held to account when they screw up. But too often, what I find is not holding them to account but efforts to get revenge on them. To harm or punish them, often to no object except revenge.

    That seems to be human nature, too. If people feel wronged, they often want to see the ones who harmed them hurt or punished.

    But it's an endless cycle once it gets going. Not good. Not good at all.

    So I've tried to unplug it by refusing to accept anyone as a Hero, limiting most accountability to correction of error, and trying to mediate resolutions to conflict -- which doesn't necessarily mean compromise or capitulation.

    It's a tough nut.