On Heroes

2/21/2018 Update: I have been reading The Individual, Society, and Education: A History of American Educational Ideas by Clarence J. Karier and in the 11th chapter of that book, he wrote about how MLK was targeted to discredit him by the FBI during his career and part of that targeting involved “female plants” to tempt him in order for him to make mistakes precisely so that blog posts like this would be written. I thought that was a necessary addendum to add to this post. Excuse me for my naivete in 2012.


The world needs heroes, but the world doesn’t want them.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had affairs.

Does that mean that everything else he did was worthless?

We demand perfection from our heroes. We want divinity. We want our politicians to appeal to every interest group, our preachers to never sin, our journalists to never plagiarize, our celebrities to be role models, and our intellectuals to always be right.

But we allow politicians to win elections with less than 50% of the vote. We talk of doctrine where everyone, the greatest of the great and the least of the least, sins. We put our writers in high-stress jobs where they are expected to know everything about everything. We make celebrities of sixteen-year-old kids. And we put our intellectuals in a culture of democracy, in which anyone has the right to criticize.

The world needs heroes, but the world doesn’t want them.

I cannot promise perfection. I cannot promise a life lived without mistakes.

All that I can promise is that the mistakes I make will either be a result of great intentions or personal weakness.

I think we should reverse it.

We should want heroes but not need them. We should be thrilled when ordinary, awful people do extraordinary, amazing things. We should understand MLK, Jr. not as a great man who fell but as a fallen man who was great.

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