People we considered our heroes are turning out to be anything but. How could we be fooled so badly?
Bill Cosby was America’s Dad. Not only did he play a loving, intelligent and supportive father on his television sitcom, he was a tireless advocate for education and personal responsibility. I was one of the millions who looked up to him and considered him a role model. Little did I know that he was a sexual deviant who preyed on women. Any claim he may have had to innocence evaporated these last few weeks when the transcript of a 2005 deposition was released in which he admitted under oath giving a woman a powerful sleeping pill in order to have sex with her. America’s Dad was in reality America’s Pervert.
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were America’s Couple. Talented, beautiful and seemingly in love, they built a family together in the public eye. In the midst of the dysfunction of Hollywood they put on a façade of normalcy. There recent divorce announcement revealed the truth about their marriage. It was in reality dysfunctional and unhealthy. Careers came before kids, and the extended absences common with the acting profession contributed to the end of their marriage.
Leland Yee was an American success story. Born in China, he came to America at the age of 3. He graduated from UC Berkeley, one of the top schools in the nation, then went on to obtain a doctorate in Child Psychology. He worked as a child therapist for years before entering politics in 1988. He was a member of the school board in San Francisco, a county supervisor, and a member of the State Assembly in California before winning a seat in the California State Senate in 2006. He gained a reputation as a staunch advocate for gun safety and sponsored numerous bills restricting access to guns in California. In 2012 he announced his candidacy for the office of California Secretary of State. Mr. Lee was respected member of the Asian community and honored by gun control groups. He was also a crook and a gun runner. He pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges July 1, 2015.
The list of similarly admired people who are not at all admirable is seemingly endless. Sports heroes, celebrities and even pastors are placed on pedestals for public adoration only to later be found completely unworthy of respect. I am left wondering how it is that we idolize losers with such regularity.
I have come to the conclusion that it is human nature to want heroes. We want to have someone to look up to, someone who can help us believe that amazing things are possible. What we do not want to recognize is the truth that all people are all messed up, that no person is perfect, near perfect or even good at heart.
We choose distant people as heroes, people we do not know well, because we can overlook or deny their imperfections. When we know someone well we tend to know their faults and failures and all of the ways in which they are not heroic at all. We tend to focus on their imperfections and cast them aside as potential role models.
In my life I am learning to look up to a different kind of person. I am learning to admire those who work hard at being the best they can be outside of the public eye, people who are far from perfect, who know their flaws and do not hide them but instead work to overcome them every day. I believe it is these people, who labor in the shadows and whose accomplishments are overlooked by others, who are the greatest role models in our world.
When the day comes that we all stand before God and give account for our actions it will not be the Afflecks, Garners, Cosby’s and Lee’s who are recognized. The greatest honor will not be reserved for the Obamas, Bushes, Clintons or Romneys of the world, the movers and shakers and the most powerful. It will be for those individuals who honored God in their daily lives, who faithfully loved and served God outside of the eyes of the world.
May we all seek to be and to honor these kind of heroes.
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