Hero Worship And Ideals
“We are not that different from each other
We just want somebody to discover
Who we really are when we drop our guard…”
– “We,” by Joy Williams
Who is your hero? Maybe it’s Orlando Bloom and you have his picture taped onto your closet. Maybe it’s Nicole Nordeman. Maybe her website is your homepage and you listen to her music most of the time. Maybe there is someone else you adore.
So what is hero worship? The Oxford dictionary (my constant companion) says that it is “excessive devotion to an admired person.” I think that hero worship is when we see something we like in somebody (this could be nobility, bravery, or even good looks) and then we to try to emulate them in both that area and other areas of their life. It also entails the excessive respect and devotion that we give these people.
One thing I find interesting to note is that we usually don’t know our heroes personally. We don’t know anything about them except what we have read here and there. If we have ever seen them face-to-face it was probably very briefly. We don’t know what kind of person they REALLY are and if we lived with them we probably would not look at them as our heroes. These people look like superstars to us but I firmly believe that there is no such thing as a superstar. Superstars are a product of the imagination, created by the spotlight. Those people we adore may have good things about them, but they are just ordinary people like us when they are alone. They cry themselves to sleep when their world seems to be falling into pieces or they may sing to the rain when they have no other way to vent their joy. They have their own worries and beliefs, their own heartaches and fears. Maybe we need to stop looking at them as superstars and start thinking about them as people who need not our worship but our prayers.
So, does this mean that it’s wrong to have a hero? I don’t think so! Even Paul the apostle told us to be like him. It is good to try to develop in us good qualities that we see in heroic people. I think we just need to be sure that we have the right kind of hero. The person we choose to be “our hero” should be someone we can truly know about so that we will not be deceived. They need to be someone admirable and worthy of imitation. As Karen Andreola says in Beautiful Girlhood, “No one can rise higher than his or her ideals. The ideal that one has in mind is the limit of perfection to that person. It is impossible to attain higher things than we strive for; and few even reach their ideals. So it is imperative that people set before themselves good and pure ideals, that they set their mark high. It is better to aim at the impossible than to be content with the inferior.” The person we choose as “our hero” is really our ideal.
Often the heroes are confused with the superstars. (I have another post about this subject.) One such example of this would be the Legolas vs. Orlando Bloom problem. People who watch “The Lord Of The Rings” often become extremely attracted to the character Legolas. He is courageous, handsome, humble, skilled, and wise. He is not entirely perfect but he is certainly very close to it and when he makes a mistake, he apologizes immediately. He is, in short, what many consider to be a true “hero.” People like this kind of character and want to emulate him. They also want to show their admiration for him. Of course, there is no such person as “Legolas” so they often end up becoming Orlando Bloom fans instead, automatically supposing Orlando Bloom and Legolas to somehow be “one person,” due to the fact that Orlando Bloom acted the character Legolas in the movie. When we get down to these facts, of course, we realize that Orlando Bloom is NOT Legolas and that he does not necessarily have all (or any) of Legolas’ character traits. We can see Legolas on the screen and, therefore, we know that he possesses these qualities. However, we don’t know so much about Orlando Bloom so we don’t know if he is really someone we want to emulate. (I am not trying to say that there is anything wrong with Orlando Bloom. My point here is that we don’t know him well enough to decide if we want him to be our hero.)
So, to summarize this post, I think we must be very careful in choosing a hero because heroes are ideals and no one can ever become greater than his or her ideal.