As I was watching the funeral services and remembrances of Sen. Edward Kennedy, there were critics voicing their opinions about his life and the mistakes he had made, like the 1969 accident at Chappaquiddick resulting in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.
During the endless hours of television and radio programs devoted to the death of Michael Jackson, detractors did the very same thing, constantly reminding us of the many legal battles he had to fight over his alleged affection for boys.
Every day we get reports of sport figures being caught up in the use of steroids and other enhancement drugs to improve their performance on the field.
At the same time we are denouncing these people, we put them on pedestals of admiration. For whatever reason a person may have, these “stars” become heroes.
That’s a load of poppycock as far as I am concerned.
My heroes are the men and women who put their life on the line daily in the military or law enforcement. They are the fire fighters and EMT workers who risk their lives and devote themselves to saving others. They are the teachers, who have to work many hours outside of the classroom during what should be their personal time to prepare class materials, and grade assignments and tests. They are the doctors and nurses that stay up many hours, wracking their brains for the answer to some medical quandary. And they are the average man and woman who works hard, long, hot hours to bring home enough money to support their family—keep a roof over their head, meals on the table, medical care, and hopefully a few extra dollars to take the family out for a pizza and a movie once in awhile.
These are heroes. They don’t ask for glory or honor. They simply want to do their job the best they can, and never give a thought to the praise they deserve and never get.
Paul Newman, a very talented actor, and a noble philanthropist said he never understood celebrity. To paraphrase him: “I act and I am paid very well for it. But that’s all I do. I don’t understand the adoration. I’m no better than the average guy or girl. I do my job, collect my money and go home. That’s how it should be.”
We place people on high pedestals, and when they tumble we are horrified and quick to complain. Rarely did they place themselves there. We did it, and we hold them to a unrealistic higher standard.
There is not a person reading this that hasn’t led a life that would seem less than ideal under the x-rays of investigation. Everyone has his or her skeletons. At times it seems like I need more closet space built just to house them in.
Maybe it’s time we stop holding anyone to a higher standard. They are just plain folks like you and me that have been given the opportunity to do something extraordinary, and placed, many times unwillingly, in the limelight.
If you’re a parent, you are a hero to your child. If you are the friend of someone desperately in need of a friend, you are their hero. If you reach down to help someone up, then you are a hero. And if you stoop down to give aid, or comfort for someone in need, someone with a disability or perhaps a child, then you are a hero.
Let’s tear down all the pedestals. Let’s see those we place there as the same as us. After all, that’s all they are.