What Is An Idol?
No one is capable of growing up in this country without finding some mesmerizing character to idolize. These idols can range from the more simplistic ideas of wanting to follow in the footsteps of a parent, to the worshiping of an athlete or actor.
No one is capable of growing up in this country without finding some mesmerizing character to idolize. These idols can range from the more simplistic ideas of wanting to follow in the footsteps of a parent, to the worshiping of an athlete or actor. In any case, most of us were raised to blindly put faith into those we do not even know.
In itself, this is a healthy practice, and a part of growing up. However, many people continue to put trust in those that they do not know, way past adolescence. Blind faith can be a very dangerous thing. In reality, there is no such thing as the perfect human being. Everyone has faults and has no right to be placed upon a pedestal above the rest of us. To do so is just deceiving ourselves into putting our hope into others, instead of into ourselves. Also, people get sucked in even more at times when a hero falls from grace. After all, people can relate to a suffering martyr when they seeing the same fallacies within themselves.
This can be a precarious problem for many different reasons. In the most benign form, one simply sets themselves up for a disappointment. By placing someone on that pedestal, the hero is being viewed by the distorted eyes of a devotee. Finally realizing the person for what they are almost always is a huge letdown, and makes it even harder to trust anyone at all. A favorite example of mine is that of Richard Jewell. He was hailed as a hero for discovering the pipe bomb that devastated the 1996 Summer Olympics. Yet not a day later he was the FBI's prime suspect, only to be set free months later. So is he a hero or a villain?
One might say that it is important to believe in others, that this need for invulnerability is part of what we are. While I agree that blind faith does offer the security people may want, it does at too high a price. One would be hurt to find out a star they trusted implicitly was going off to jail for drugs or sexual assault for example. One might then start wondering if they can trust anyone at all. It would have been a lot less painful to have not had the dependence in the first place. A more extreme example would be those new religious fanatics creeping up all over the country such as the Waco or the Heavens Gate cults. One may find reassurance in the words spoken by such prevaricators, but to be protected by a lie is not saving anyone, but rather making these people more vulnerable. Once trust has been established, these false gods use their control to manipulate and exploit their followers to no end.
There are countless examples of how trust in unworthy people has lead to catastrophic consequences. Many might argue that this is necessary for religion; after all religion itself is a "leap of faith." However, if you look at the issue more closely, how many wars and conquests devastated lives simply based on the religious faith of followers?
Trust should have its limitations, even how far we can trust our religious and/or community leaders. One example is the multitude of cases about preachers abusing children in their congregations. Those children were brought up to believe blindly anything these men told them and were left the children open to any carnage that these "men of God" could conceive. This is why it is so important to teach children the reality of the world at an earlier age than ever before. While I do understand people want their children to live in an innocent world as long as they possibly can, it is much better for the parent to "break the news to a child", rather than he or she find out the hard way, first hand. A child's innocence is a very precious thing, but the parent leaves their child open to manipulators of every kind. In today's world this is a small price to pay, rather than losing a child due to the luring of a faux priest or police officer, etc.
Ask yourself when the last time the vision you had of someone was actually close to the reality of the situation. Whether it be a boyfriend or girlfriend that came off much differently than you anticipated, or perhaps just a casual run-in with an acquaintance, chances are you can think of multiple instances when people you knew were not what they appeared to be.
From greedy politicians who give the appearance of helping anyone they can, to those athletes who try to come of as the guy anyone can love, we are hounded by deception each and every day of our lives. There are countless examples everywhere we turn. Even the former President of the United States himself is under such scrutiny. Is Bill Clinton a loving husband and father, or a deceiving adulterer? If one picked apart the lives of most people we looked at in awe, those feelings would probably change from admiration to that of disgust. How many of these prideful politicians are really using the system to their own gain rather than for ours? How many of these athletes are merely in it for the money and care less for their fans and more about what company markets their shoe deal? To lead life with the naivete of a child seems romantic in concept, but in actual execution, one is really giving authorization to be taken advantage of at every turn in their lives. What it comes down to is education. Not paranoia, but simple guidance. It is a lot harder to fool a community who is prepared to deal with deceit, over an open and befuddled public. The real heroes are the ones we don't hear about.