Archives for posts with tag: heroes and villians

It’s hard to read the news. Even the business pages are filled with articles that highlight how monstrous human beings can be. Our mythical monsters are no real competition for the actual human beings who likely inspired them, and continue to plague our daily lives at work, at home, and out and about. Some of us marry monsters. Some of us go to work for monsters. Some of us elect monsters. Some of us create monsters – or even become monsters. Pretty ugly. Take a good look in your mirror. Are you a monster?

Monster or not – do better. Seriously. We’re headed into the winter holidays one more time. Who knows how long humanity really has to fulfill it’s potential? Do better. Look at who you were yesterday. Consider the way you interact with colleagues, friends, loved ones – do better than that. Even one improved interaction today compared to yesterday is that much better. Each effort makes the world just a bit better. Each success results in you becoming a somewhat less shitty human being than you were. That seems worthwhile, doesn’t it?

Maybe you’re not a monster? Maybe you’re just a garden-variety troll, asshole, jackass, jerkwad, tyrant, bully, bitch, or douche-nozzle? Maybe you’re a well-intentioned fuckwit prone to saying or doing just the wrong thing at the wrong time? Do better. Give a shit. Make the attempt to improve. Be a bit kinder. Be more considerate. Really listen to people when they talk to you. Apologize sincerely and make amends when you fuck up or when you hurt someone. Set clear boundaries. Don’t make people guess what you need. You’ll still “get it wrong” – maybe a lot – but each time you do better, the world is a better place for it. That seems worthwhile, doesn’t it?

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking to yourself “well, none of this applies to me at all, really, I’m fine…”? You’re probably wrong. Do better. Do something better today than you did yesterday. Care – because it matters. We all have room to improve.

Who do you most want to be? What do you want to be remembered for?

I’m not going on and on about this because I’m a perfect human being looking outward on a world of chaos, trauma, and nastiness. I’m on and on about this because I am committing myself to doing better today than I did yesterday. Every day. I don’t always get it right. Sometimes – even in the context of a loving partnership – I sometimes feel like I’m alone in the attempt. (That’s an illusion; most of the time, most of us are at least thinking that we’re “doing our best”, even when we are able to acknowledge that “our best” in that moment is a very dim light in a very dark place.) What we’re able to do isn’t always “enough”. It’s part of the human struggle, isn’t it? I still see caring about the attempt and the outcome as something important. I still have shitty days. There are still times when I am callous or clueless, inconsiderate or terse, impatient or frustrated – I don’t even expect that to change. I just want to do my best, and have part of that be to succeed in doing just a bit better today than I did yesterday. Every day. It’s not easy. There are verbs involved. I fail a lot. In failure there is growth. When I falter, I begin again. It’s a process.

…We could choose to build a better world. Some of the choices are very difficult. Seems like one of the easier choices is simply to seek opportunities every day to do just a bit better than we did yesterday. Every day.

Each day I have a chance to begin again.

I am sipping my coffee – an eggnog latte, my fond seasonal weakness coffee-wise each autumn as the Yule season begins. Thanksgiving… holiday parties… Hannukah… the Solstice… Giftmas (more commonly called “Christmas”)… Festivus… Boxing Day… Kwanzaa… it’s a season rich in celebrations and merry-making. Oddly, it wasn’t what I was thinking about over the weekend, in spite of Thanksgiving being just days away…

I sit in the stillness of a local co-work space, alone with my coffee. It’s quiet. The usual background music is not playing, and the stillness feels complete, interrupted by occasional trucks passing on the street outside. I came into “the office” early this morning to avoid waking my Traveling Partner. He’s put in some heroic hours laboring in the shop, making it ready for the new (larger) CNC machine that will arrive soon. He was obviously exhausted by the end of his day, yesterday, and I sometimes rattle about rather noisily in the mornings. It’s not any particular inconvenience to go into the office and give him a better chance at deep sleep, and when he actually asked me if I would, I readily agreed. So… here I am. 😀 Getting some quiet time to write, and sipping on a delightful holiday beverage. It’s a promising start to a Monday.

There have been a lot of items in the news (I’d say “lately”, but truly it’s a relatively common thing) about various celebrities, sports figures, cultural icons of one sort or another, and some problematic tidbit – something they’ve said, or not said, or some bad act (some such are fairly petty or trivial, others quite horrible). We lament the fall of our heroes, when we’re honest enough to accept their human failings at all. Other times, we can’t accept what we’ve seen/heard… and we make excuses for their shitty behavior, or seek to explain it away. We do it for star athletes. We do it for actors. We do it for politicians. We do it for friends and loved ones. We do it for the gods we created in our own image.

I didn’t link any examples, and that’s intentional; we all experience this toppling of our heroes at some point, even if only in the discovery that our own parents do not know everything and don’t get everything right, or perhaps that first time we correct a teacher on some small detail of a subject we study passionately, that they were simply incorrect about.

…It’s hard to separate the art from the artist, isn’t it?.. To separate the author from their story? To separate the musician from their music? The soldier from their service? We are each so human…

Why the hell do we so often set ourselves up – and each other – for failure by creating a heroic caricature that no one could possibly measure up to? Why is it so difficult to “hate the sin” and still deal with one another entirely humanely? Why are our expectations of one another so complicated and often so unreasonable? What are we even doing here??

I only have questions on this one. Catchy bon mots and conveniently pithy slogans of one sort or another came and went with my thoughts over the weekend. I never really got anywhere besides “human beings are not heroes and neither are the gods they create”. We begin life with no perspective, experience, or wisdom, but commence judgment and decision-making immediately… we age and our thinking changes over time as we do, but entirely too late to change our previous decisions or actions based on flawed thinking. If we’re fortunate, we get somewhere good with all that mess. More often, it’s … complicated.

I remember how I felt upon learning that John Lennon mistreated women. “Heartbroken astonishment and disbelief” describe the initial feeling, but it quickly morphed into just disbelief, and from there? Apologist nonsense. Took me awhile to get to a place in life where I could both enjoy his music and also accept that he was a flawed human being, possibly even one I could not personally respect and might not wish to hang out with. Some of his music remains personally meaningful to me, in spite of who he was or may have been. This is just one example. There are so many others! (You, too?) In some cases, I couldn’t get past the human being behind the art, and I avoid it altogether. It sort of depends on how great the art, and how terrible the failure, sometimes. Over the years, I’ve become much less inclined to make excuses for human failings, and also much more inclined to be compassionate. It’s… complicated. I do think that when we insist on super-gluing our heroes to their pedestals in spite of their failings, we set ourselves up to treat people around us more callously – because we’re insisting on preserving the lie of heroism. There are no heroes. Only people. Some people are pretty fucking horrible. Other people are damned nice. No people are living embodiments of perfection in life (don’t argue, just look closer), and we’re each having our own experience. We’re walking our own paths, doing our own best, and generally hoping the outcome will be good more often than not. Can we each do better? Yeah, probably. Having a “role model” feels helpful sometimes. Making our role models over in the image of a god or a hero is probably not. (It’s also probably a lot of weight to have to carry, being someone’s hero…)

What do you value? How do you live that value in your life every day? What do you need a hero for? You have the path ahead, you have the choices in your hands, you have this day. Topple your heroes, then… become the person you most want to be.

Begin again.