I woke up to a Twitter timeline extremely enraged about something J.K Rowling has said. I don’t want to go into the details of the wrongness of her persistent transphobia. The bottomline is that she is no longer the hero we had all considered her to be. Or wanted her to be.
Heroes falling from their graces has of late been a theme in our lives. Those we deemed perfect have revealed themselves to be flawed humans. Just like the rest of us.
It is heart breaking at many levels. But it is also an important realization. The failure of our heroes is nothing more than a revelation of their human frailties. It is us who put them on a pedestal and expected them to be perfect. It is us who get heartbroken when that illusion inevitably gets shattered.
We need heroes in our lives, people we look up to and deem as perfect ideals. We need heroes because they are a symbol of hope — of a perfect life, perfect value systems and perfect moral compass.
But in fact nobody is perfect. And it is a scary realization. Because it means a world without heroes. Without hope.
Or maybe not.
Heroes are humans. In allowing for their flaws, we allow for our own imperfections. In acceptance of flawed heroes lies the acceptance of the fact that there is nothing like a perfect, model hope. Hope is human. And so it is flawed and fallible. Much like our heroes.
Someone on twitter commented on the whole Rowling saga, “We grew up reading her books. Let’s just leave it at that.” It was resigned and melancholic. It was also a way forward.
When we deify our heroes, we not only create a fallible illusion but also a tendency to condone their mistakes instead of learning from them. Rabid devotion is problematic. What we need is critical admiration and a willingness to not just hold our heroes accountable but also learn from their mistakes.
Humans are not perfect. Most of us live our whole lives in shades of grey. To box people in black and white is problematic and reductive. We are allowed to admire someone for somethings while being critical of them for others. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation no matter what your social media timeline wants you to believe.
Heroes mean hope, and hope is too important a value to be entirely entrusted on individual, mortal humans. Hope is bigger than us all. And hope should not be given up simply because a few humans failed to live up to its standards. We need to take the good, learn from the bad and move on, our hope intact.
Every time a hero falls, it is a reminder that hope is too important to be outsourced. Hope must always be upheld. And if that means we ought become our own heroes, than so be it.
And perhaps, it is better that way. Becoming our own heroes puts the onus on us to live up to the standards we set for ourselves and learn from our mistakes when they inevitably happen.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t have other heroes. It just means that we are not dependent on them, and retain our critical faculties even while admiring them. This also means that we understand our own fallibility and make peace with it. It is fundamental because even when everything else we believe in crumbles, hope must remain standing. Right along with us.
Ultimately, there is nothing more heroic than hope. And when push comes to shove, hope is what defines the hero who survives and succeeds.
When it matters the most, we can’t entrust someone else to be our hero, someone else to be our hope. We have to pick that mantle ourselves. So why not prepare ahead? Why not start now? Why not be your own hero before anyone else?
Until next time
Be Your Own Hero!