“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy”. F. Scott Fitzgerald
So true. Unfortunately. I have to say I am really saddened by the news, or what we know of it, about Oscar Pistorius. Far be it from me to try and convict him without knowing all the facts, but you’ve got to admit, it’s not looking very good.
Even if it was an honest mistake, it’s still a horrific event. A young woman lost her life needlessly. And a young man who overcame so much, and become so victorious, has also lost much. The respect and adoration of millions; and, almost certainly, his future.
Regardless of the judge’s verdict his life, and the lives of many others, will never be the same again.
Can you believe it? I can’t.
One minute he was the world’s first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics in London, in 2012, followed by a gold medal win and a new record set in the 2012 Paralympics. And the next, he was being
arrested for the brutal murder of his girlfriend.
Another O.J. Simpson.
Sometimes I wonder if we’re partly to blame, for the downfall of so many of these individuals we worship. Which is precisely the crux of the matter, I think. The degree to which we worship these people. We put them up on pedestals so high, we make it damn near impossible for them to live up to our expectations. Or even their own. And then we’re upset when we discover they have feet of clay.
Which they inevitably do. Which, under the circumstances, isn’t really surprising. We treat them as if they are super human, immune to the foibles the rest of us mere mortals succumb to.
Until they do.
Please don’t misunderstand. I am neither defending his behaviour or actions, or deflecting the blame. But I do wonder, what compels us to idolize celebrities and athletes the way we do. I’m just asking, “Why do we do it?”
Neither am I underestimating all that Oscar Pistorius has accomplished. I sat, in front of my TV, in absolute awe, sobbing as he crossed the finish line. But people overcome challenges and adversity every day, in every corner of the world. Most of it, unnoticed.
We did the same with Tiger Woods. And, until our noses were rubbed in the truth, we refused to believe he could have, or would have, cheated on his beautiful young wife. Same with Lance Armstrong. Until the facts could no longer be denied, until he finally couldn’t deny them any longer, we refused to believe he was guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs. That he’d be willing to sacrifice his team members and an entire sport, to save his own sorry ass.
And I’ll bet there are still those who’d gladly turn the other cheek, and ignore all our disgraced heroes have done. I’ll bet they’d put them right back up there on those pedestals, no matter how many times they toppled off.
I don’t get it. What is it about setting records and winning races and tournaments and singing in bands and starring in films and winning awards that causes us to take total leave of our senses? Of course we do the same thing with performers and actors. If we didn’t, no one would be glued to their television sets, watching all the Red Carpet shows.
Something is terribly wrong with our value system. Accomplishment should always be acknowledged. Admiration is a good thing. But we’re taking it too far, I think. And perhaps it’s also time for those we’ve worshipped to stop believing their own P.R. To realize they’re not above it all. They’re not above the law.
They won’t get away with murder.