Every time a great sporting event happens, like the US Women's victory in the World Cup last Sunday, I get a more than a little worried.
I worry about one thing, primarily. That as a culture, we have the need for heroes. And so, we create heroes out of people who might have one or two great skills but who might be severely lacking in many important areas.
But, we have the need for heroes.
So we take someone who can throw a ball, or kick a ball, or hit a ball, or run with a ball, or even write a good ad, and we turn them into something that goes way beyond human. In fact, all of a sudden, they're not human anymore. They've become demigods.
Somehow I think our species, that is the life-form formerly called humans, have gone downhill at least since the time of the ancient Greeks.
Of course, the Greeks had their heroes. Like Agamemnon, for instance. Or Achilles. Or Odysseus. Or Theseus. Or Heracles.
But all these men (sorry, they were predominately men) were seriously flawed.
Agamemnon, for instance, hero that he was, killed his daughter to assuage the gods and then stole and raped his arch-rival's concubine, lengthening the Trojan war and heightening its carnage.
So while you might admire parts of their whole, you realized they were seriously flawed creatures.
This is par for the course for almost all people. They're a mixture of good, maybe great, attributes, and some things that are downright rotten.
The trouble starts when we regard people as heroes. Unblemished heroes. When we fail to make the distinction between someone who does something heroic (like score the winning goal or win a Titanium Lion) and someone who is a hero.
There are no heroes, really.
Everyone is flawed. No one who is unsullied. No human who is not human.
If you look hard enough everyone has a host of peccadillos in their past, or even their present. Why? Because we're all human, that's why. And of all the fabulous things that humans have accomplished in our roughly 200,000 years on this rapidly warming planet, we're most proficient at fucking up.
Fucking up jobs, friendships, marriages, parental responsibilities, the environment, etc etc. You name it, we'll fuck it up.
To me, and with all respect possible to the US Women's Soccer Team, don't regard anyone as a hero. Heroic, yes. Hero, no.
In fact I abide by a fairly simple dicta:
The only hero is the person without heroes.