We all do it, we all find a person or something we look up to. A hero or idol for us to set on a pedestal. Who knows how long humans have been doing it, but everyone does it now. The concept of hero-worship long a part of societal norms. But really isn’t it all a pile of BS anyways?
Human history is littered with stories of idols and heroes who came through at tough times to help us or teach us a lesson. Hercules did his part sure enough and now Superman has taken up that torch. Stories meant to inspire and motivate the average jackass to extraordinary feats. But these grandiose heroes aren’t the only ones who get this little bit of our hearts, no we have many heroes we worship.
We all start with the same heroes to worship, Mom and Dad. Well ok most of us have this luxury, I realize many are also let down prior to understanding behaviour modelling. But most of us have these two people. I think Dad gets a lot of extra credit in this category in a lot of ways, historically painted as the bread-winner and protector of the home. Although this role is changing and more open now, historically this appears to be the case. In our house there was definitely a way of painting Dad in a stronger role, although not so much as a hero but as a villain, like when we heard “When your father comes home you will be in real trouble.” But this statement perpetuated the belief that Dad was the king of that abode and not be trifled with. Many of us idolize our parents well into adult hood. Maybe it never goes away. Honestly I don’t know because there are many things about my parents that I admire. However these are also the first heroes we see torn down a little. I still remember the first time I saw my Dad cry, it was utterly shocking to me. Such a strong man, the one who protected me from everything crying in front of me. It was crazy. I realize now it wasn’t a sign of weakness but hey I was like 11 at the time. I watched both of my parents make mistakes and deal with hardships, things I only understood as I grew older. And bit by bit my parents weren’t super heroes but just pretty damn good role models. Again I am lucky because they are good role models, but I don’t think hero-worship is the right term anymore. In fact I will admit those two old folks flat-out piss me off on a semi-regular basis.
Our parents are the ones who tell us the stories and show us the shows with Superman and Spider man on them. Real true super heroes. These crazy sons-a-bitches are only in it for the justice of the world. Sacrifice their happiness for our own. Batman was big when I was a kid too, he was awesome because he had no super powers he was just one kick ass dude in a rubber suit. Quickly these idols are ruined, first by the fact we realize the world has no super heroes, and thankfully no super villains and secondly by our experience which jades us against the extreme morals of these characters. A huge let down indeed.
So our parents introduce us to real world heroes, or at least people we put in those roles. I know as adults we want them to be firefighters and police officers but the truth is we give kids athletes and entertainers. It is a sad world that we put athletes into the role of hero for our youth. Most of these guys have few life skills outside of their sport. They have been focused almost exclusively on that path since a pretty young age. Most foregoing normal socialization and maturing to become millionaires and worshipped gods for a short career. The problem is they often let their followers down. I can think of a number of times I was disappointed. I was a hockey guy and that’s where my heroes landed, although I soon realized they weren’t with the worship in a lot of cases. I had a great experience with my all time favourite, Al MacInnis when I was pretty young. He was this awesome defenseman here in Calgary with the Flames. I loved him and cheered almost exclusively for him. One day my Dad took me to a car dealership to get his autograph. At the end of the line we stood and slowly worked our way up. Al was at the end of a long day of signing countless autographs. No one would have blamed him for being tired. On top of that he was recovering from a dislocated hip, occupational injury, so he had to be uncomfortable. We got to the front, his day almost complete, he took my hat and signed it, made eye contact with me and engaged me in a quick exchange. It was awesome. Will never forget that. But not many were like that, Gary Roberts who signed things without making eye contact, busy with his agent, let down. Steve Yzerman too good to sign a young child’s playing card, asshole. Frank Musil not signing the brim of my hat because it wasn’t on the glass, shit he wasn’t anyones hero he was just a plug defenseman. Scotty Bowman about to become the winningest coach in hockey history walking by a whole throng of fans refusing all autographs. Dany Heatley, the guy who treated a very young me so well at the Macs Midget Tournament, taking the time to sign my program and introduce me to his team. Only to become the guy who drove like an ass, taking a friend’s life and then pouted in the NHL every time things didn’t go his way (even though he should have been in a cell block). These are the heroes that most let us down. We paint these immature children as heroes for the masses. Our kids follow them and hey sometimes they aren’t bad but I got to say a lot of them are total jerks. Look back a couple of posts ago about Adrian Peterson, what a piece of work that so-called “hero” is. Wonder how many young kids were wearing Ray Rice jerseys a year ago.
So I sit here and wonder, why we make hero-worship a norm in our lives. I understand the survival skill for emulation of others, learning to hunt and find shelter, but I wonder if hero-worship goes back that far? Did the cave people of old look up to those who brought home the biggest boar and hope they could likewise grow to be that guy. Only to find out the guy wasn’t sharing any of the boar with his family? Do other animals do this. A bird flying low in the sky, look up higher at a huge eagle and think “damn if I could grow to be a fucking eagle like that guy, wouldn’t that be awesome”. Did the Triceratops aspire to be a T-rex, even if small arms was the punishment for the stardom of the worlds most famous dino? Who decided we should over eventuate others positive abilities and overlook their flaws? Would it be harder to go without hero worshipping Dad or is it harder to watch him fall from grace, in some cases with a crashing boom.