At different points in my life I have fallen prey to hero worship. However, it is something I have learned to be aware of because I realize it is unhealthy, often damaging to my emotional well-being.
It is never a good thing to invest all of our energy into placing people on pedestals and holding them up like gods, submitting to everything they say and do. Sometimes we are tempted to do this when someone is more knowledgeable than us, or has more power and influence, such as a government leader or professor.
However, this can lead to a couple different things. When we deny the fallibility of our heroes, we can blindly go along with what they do, whether it be moral or appalling. We can find ourselves supporting the most heinous of acts.
Another thing that can happen is that when they let us down, it is devastating and we become unhinged at the fact that someone, who in our eyes could do no wrong, could act or speak in such a manner. No one is immune from disappointing others, and when we forget that, we place unrealistic expectations on each other which no one can meet.
I am not saying we shouldn’t respect people we admire. But I think we cannot lose our individuality and our own personal values.
I believe the more important things to hold onto are the ideas and philosophies of these people, values that we ascribe to and ones that will strengthen and build up our society as a whole. The philosophies, though subject to scrutiny, are what people should look for, because if we fight for the ideas we believe in, we can still recognize that the actions of the people who promulgate them are sometimes foolish.
There have been people whose ideas I adore. Even some of their accomplishments. The composer Richard Wagner was a brilliant innovator in the art of opera. I love his musical ideas. However, he as a person was an arrogant and racist anti-Semite and I would not have worshipped him as a hero.
I find that a lot of people do the same thing with our presidents, any president we have had, be it Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump, or Andrew Jackson. People become infatuated with the person and hold them in such esteem, that the terrible things they might do are overlooked for the sake of appealing to them as opposed to their ideas, some of which might be good or at least fall in closely with our own.
I have seen a lot of hero worship on social media toward a lot of different public figures and politicians and it worries me. No one should be safe from criticism or scrutiny. Don’t simply go along with everything anyone does because you have raised them up like a deity.
This is just a little about what I see in society from my perspective. I know not everyone will see it this way, but I have been thinking about this a lot over the past week. Always examine reality when it comes to those we admire, and do not fall under the spell of hero worship. I have had to pull myself out of this throughout my life, and it can be challenging sometimes.
The values we hold and fight for are more important than the gratification of the people who are conveying them. Respect cannot mean an irrational acceptance of everything someone does or says. Stay true to yourself and your ideas.