Confession time. I have been interested. Nope, let's be honest, I have been obsessed with the Taylor Swift/Tom Hiddleston romance that has unfolded over the internet this summer. Not only the romance, but also the publicity war over lyrics to a song by Kanye West. Who knows what is the exact truth to any of the "reports" (mostly made up stories) on the internet.
But what has struck me is the passion with which people write or comment about this woman and her personal and professional life. One would think that those who are commenting had personally been affected by the star's behavior. Granted, we are in an age and she is of the age when self-disclosure and self-promotion are the norm. It is very rare when people do their jobs quietly without a tweet, Instagram posting or snapchat. I am learning that in just doing this blog and writing in general, it is expected that I self-promote. As an editor pointed out to me, we are in the age of social media. Social network means having to be social- one has to disclose and share.
But there seems to be a yearning for someone to arise from the smoldering ashes of our volatile society. Someone who seems above the fray. Someone who doesn't stoop to another's level, who behaves in a decent way and who is humble. Almost by definition, the person who behaves in that matter is not going to be splashed all over the internet. Short of that, we want someone who portrays the qualities of niceness, goodness, and honesty, but also who is strong, smart and looks pleasing to the eye. In essence, we are looking for a hero.
The thing is when we look for a human hero, we are greatly disappointed.
Perfect as someone might try to be eventually they will fail. The higher we place someone on a pedestal the farther they fall. The taller someone sits on his high horse, the greater the distance to the ground. We become disenchanted so quickly. When someone doesn't behave in the manner we think their persona should do, or doesn't do, say or give us the thing that we want, we are quick to label, name call and vilify those that "hurt" us. Seems silly when most of the time we don't even know the person.
We do this all the time with celebrities and politicians. I think we also do it in a lesser degree with our own personal interactions. Generally it is with people we only know superficially and so we go by what we see- the neighbor with the beautifully maintained yard, the immaculately dressed and always prepared co-worker, the smiling parents on the soccer sidelines or the "everything is fine" parishioner . We go through the mental exercises of thinking so and so is perfect, "everything always works out for them", and when we hear or see a crack in their perfect veneer we are quick to help widen that crack through our words, "I am not surprised that they had trouble with (fill in the blank) ...", or with our thoughts, "I might have my issues but at least I don't have (fill in the blank) ....". We place that person in a ladder comparison game with us pushing the other down the rungs while trying to move up by our own smugness. Ultimately it is a game in which no one wins since the ladder isn't stable to begin with.
The only way to stop the comparisons, to remove the pedestals and to stable the high horse is to replace it with grace and mercy. Ironically our "hero worshipping" should prove to us that people will let us down, that we cannot assume anyone is perfect and that we need to dispense grace to others just like we need grace. Every online story about a celebrity should remind us that we too have our own issues.
We all have fallen short of where we need to be in God's eyes. And there is nothing we can do about it. We cannot do enough good works, rule following or perfect behavior. Yet in the compassionate nature of God, He has provided a way that we can be right in His eyes. We can do the simple act of believing that there is a true hero, a savior who walked among us and who rescued us from not only original sin but from our judgmental, hypocritical, individually sinful selves. When we place our trust and faith in Him we will never be disappointed.
What about you? Who is your hero? Have you ever been enamored by someone you only to discover they were not what you thought? Have you ever been disappointed by the behavior of others? Have you ever been disappointed by your own behavior? Do you need to dispense grace to others? To yourself? Do you need The Hero in your life?