On Heroes

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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