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Winston

Hero Worship

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Didja hear Kobe Bryant died?

I’ve commented on situations like this before. I just don’t get it. I have nothing against our dearly departed “friend”, or any of the countless other celebrities / public figures that die every year. I just don’t care. At all. One way or another.

I didn’t know the man, and chances are none of you did either. I’m sure he was a stand-up guy, loving husband, devoted father. Sure, there was that 2003 incident in Colorado… sorry. Is it too soon? The fact is, he was just a man. With talents, and faults. Just like the rest of us.

So why the heaps of unwarranted admiration? Did Kobe cure cancer? Bring peace to the Middle East? Get Trump to stop Tweeting? Nope. He just played a game, and was paid handsomely for it. Good for him. But let’s not pretend that his societal impact was “all that”. I don’t care if you slavishly dump your massive pool of sympathy on him. Just understand why I don’t.

You see, I never saw athletes, singers, actors or politicians as anything more than public servants. THEY serve US. Most of those folks provide services I don’t care one lick for. That doesn’t stop most of those people from pretending they’re “special”. They can throw a ball, carry a tune, cry on cue or lie straight-faced. I’m impressed, but just a little. But being impressed with a skill does not equate into respect for an individual.

I UNDERSTAND he was a nice guy. He coached his girl’s team, so she could train to attend the premier girls’s college program in the nation. I don’t begrudge his wealth, connections and celebrity status. It just makes no sense to laude attention over a person based on their status.

Captain Obvious reporting: There are a ton of nice, talented people all over the world. Most are not on television, Youtube or flying around in private helicopters. I personally find it morally questionable to elevate some people (celebrities) over others (common folk) in regards to who we celebrate, and who we ignore.
And, if someone is so worthy of attention, why do we wait until they stop respirating before we acknowledge their worth?

That said, here are some folks I know that are boring “everyday heroes”, that will not be lauded over by the fawnish, myopic media:

My wife works with disabled kids. She is paid very little, but is never bitter. Instead, she is kind, patient and usually the most stable adult role model most of her students have. For her efforts, she is kicked and punched by students, and unsupported by administrators. She still makes time to volunteer, and even works a side-hustle selling on eBay (to supplement her puny school paycheck).

My daughter suffers from depression and anxiety. But she still works a full-time retail job, paying down her student loan debt (NOT waiting for Bernie or Liz to pay it for her). She’s intelligent, but feels too deeply. She’s consistently the best friend, sister and daughter one could hope for. And she’s no one’s “victim”.

My son is a glass-wearing self-described “nerd” that developed his abilities into leadership skills. He commands a Naval Junior ROTC Battalion of 140 cadets, and still squeezes in playing in the band (Low Brass section leader). He works nights washing dishes, practicing his Spanish with the restaurant owners (who love him). Everyone who meets him instantly trusts him. At 18 years old, he’s up at 0500, and in bed by 2200. Disciplined, dedicated and compassionate.

Those are my Heroes.

Of course, there’s all the people that made my people great. The church leaders, Scout volunteers, our Band director and other teachers. Friends and acquaintances. The list is too long. And maybe that’s the problem.
Maybe we see good people all around us, and we get kinda de-sensitized to their awesomeness. So, these famous people that we don’t know act as a kind of receptacle for our misplaced care and concern. If you’re the kind of person that cries every time a little birdie dies, I get that. Seven people, including a little girl? It is tragic. But on a planet with over seven billion people, maybe (just maybe) some celebrity isn’t just that important. Especially when we’re surrounded by real, tangible goodness that should be acknowledged while still living.

What we decide to honor says more about us than those we pay tribute to. I was kinda sad when we lost Stephen Hawking and Mother Theresa. I didn’t know them, but I knew their works. The world was a better place with them living, and emptier without them. In contrast, I just don’t see athletic prowess as anything worthy enough to care about. You can train a seal to balance a ball on it’s nose. It’s cute. No offence intended.

Well, I’ve pissed-off enough people for the time being. See you all at the star-studded funeral extravaganza. I’ll be the one NOT crying.

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  1. Kevin's Avatar
    Not being a basketball fan, I don't know how I feel about the huge public response except that this was someone that a lot of people followed/knew-of for many years, unlike somebody not as well known., (but equally noteworthy in their own way).

    He ( Kobe) was an artist of sorts, developed unique skills moves that were not just "...a seal balancing a ball on his nose..", unless that seal had just shown up one day at the harbor, doing it on his own, his own way, while displaying fantastic, unique skills (repeating myself?) , better ( top three ever?) than any other seal on the planet.
    ...
    aside:

    I know that mountain . It's not very tall ( 1500' max , maybe...), been ontop several times, ridden around it (on its slopes) many times (see: "new millennium trail, Calabasas" ) Just sort of strange that in this day and age there isn't an effective system to virtual guide you or show you topo and relative realtime position when flying in dense fog. Maybe there is.
  2. escorial's Avatar
    No one loves you when your down and out.....
  3. Smith's Avatar
    I think part of the answer can be found towards the end of your post. There are many people who feel the same way about Stephen Hawking or Mother Theresa, that you feel about Kobe.

    Of course, I think we can at least make an objective distinction that one brought entertainment (and perhaps some inspiration), while Stephen Hawking advanced science in many ways that have trickled down to benefit our daily lives. One benefited a culture with bread and circus; the other was a boon to humanity as a whole, advancing our understanding of the universe. Of course, while bread and circus is okay in moderation, likewise we must be cautious about scientific advancement. As cliche as it might be, Jurassic Park is a good (albeit fictional) example of why. Science doesn't ask if it should. Only if it can.

    I am impressed by the level of skill and amount of dedication that a man like Kobe showed. I also value the way that he won and lost; his character, something EVERYBODY can learn from. And some of it is about the "personal" connection, although it seems like a misuse of the term. People may have followed him since they were a little kid, and have all of these memories not only of Kobe, but of their favorite team winning, and celebrating that with friends. There's an idea that on and off the court, these celebrity athletes represent the team's hometown. Misplaced sense of pride? May be.

    I do think people invest a little too much into that... But we're all weird humans and we can get caught-up in some pretty strange shit. In fact, it seems like a lot of things in life are pretty weird if you bother to take a step back and observe it from the outside. Sometimes though, I think it's better to lose yourself in the moment and enjoy it. Just be sure to reflect afterward. Sleep, wake. Sleep, wake.

    What's really appalling is the way that it was covered by the media. So busy trying to scoop the competitor, to get the hot-take, to be the first, that they published and broadcasted embarrassing fucking lies. They often didn't even bother to add disclaimers that information hadn't been verified, that something was still being investigated. That's sad. Regardless of how important you think a given person is, to turn their death into THAT? It's shameful. Worse than irresponsible.
  4. escorial's Avatar
    SH...life would be tragic if it wasn't so funny.......
  5. midnightpoet's Avatar
    Yes, it's not just Kobe - people (all over the world it seems) are going to superheros, celebrities, even politicians more often now like there's something missing in their lives but don't know what it is so they hang onto basically hero worship. Trouble is, most if not all of them have feet of clay.
  6. clark's Avatar
    Cultures need heroes. From The Epic of Gilgamesh (ca 2150 - 1400 BCE), generally regarded as the oldest surviving piece of written literature, to the gross slaughter-house madness of John Wick 1, 2, 3, and you can rest assured 4, 5, 6 . . . ordinary people focus their hopes, ambitions, dreams, and sense of moral/physical strength on ONE individual. The Hero [at the other end of the scale is the Scapegoat, on whom a culture heaps its sins, inadequacies, failures, and fears. The biblical Jesus is both]. Hitler used Nietzsche's Ubermensche as a model for his dream of the ideal Aryan man, and as a partial justification for the Nazi genocide against the Jews. If you can focus the people on a single image, the focus alone marginalizes the pain and desperation of your own prospects . . .if only for a while.

    I think that's what's happening here. The Death of a Hero in battle--that's his role--doing what he's supposed to do for us, is certainly a Bad Thing, but for a Hero to die in a stupid accident -- that is shocking, demoralizing, completely unacceptabble. It reminds us that if one of our Heroes has clay feet . . .fuck! so do WE!
  7. midnightpoet's Avatar
    True, Clark. We can surmise this may have started among the paleolithic hunters, the tribe probably looked up to the best hunter, maybe he killed a sabre tooth, saving the tribe (probably exaggerated, but oh the stories). Doesn't always end well, though.
  8. Winston's Avatar
    Oh, how far we've fallen.

    Yes Clark, your historical references are valid. And poignant. But instead of great warriors (or hunters) risking their lives in the bold pursuit of duty, honor, and protecting their "tribe", we get these quasi-vapid pop-culture heroes.
    Kobe Bryant did not jump on a grenade. He didn't save the Earth from a horrific asteroid impact. He died in a meaningless accident. His life prior to that was impressive in some ways, but nowhere near the level to justify the fawning news coverage and near deification. Again, he played a game. He was rich, and died young. Tragic, but otherwise not noteworthy. It's that simple.

    I have no animus for those rending their garments in grief, wailing and lamenting a "great man". Anyone can choose who they bond / identify with, even if it's some millionaire stranger you saw on TV. Just doesn't make sense to me.
    Especially when there are some much more deserving:

    Sister Margaret volunteered in the jail I worked at. She worked with an organization called "Friends Outside" that provided a bunch of family and support services not offered by the government. As a Nun, she took a vow of poverty, and literally had nothing. My wife also worked in the jail, and developed a friendship with Sister Margaret. The Sister confessed that once a week she would buy herself a chocolate bar, and felt guilty for it (Catholic, right?).
    The inmates tried to manipulate and con the Sister daily. She knew, but helped and loved them nonetheless. She was old, but worked tirelessly as a liaison with inmate families, helping them with finding money for rent and feeding their kids. My wife told me that Margaret took one vacation in five years. Only because the Diocese made her. She was hard in conviction, but her spirit was as warm and welcoming as The Savior she served.
    She died some time back. I'm can't remember when, because there wasn't wall-to-wall news coverage at the time. Maybe if she had more money, and died in a fiery helicopter crash...
  9. clark's Avatar
    Winston -- I agree. No one outside the people directly impacted by their kindness and compassion weeps the weep for the unsung heroes (gee! that might catch on!) in every community in every corner of the globe. Perversely, they are responsible for livingthe values that are projected over time by the tribe on a Hero. How many quietly courageous, strong, morally dedicated, unknown warriors did it take before a battle-obsessed tribe like the Anglo-Saxons defined that single Hero in its legends and stories, culminating finally in a poet creating Beowulf. I'm confident that, could we push aside the veils of pre-history, we'd find the pantheon of the Greek gods was created by that same tribal impulse to focus the best and worst of its needs on striking Individuals.

    The foundation for your downright bitter and uncompromising rejection of Kobe as a Great Hero is that the adulation pouring out thru the media is dramatically misplaced . . .but not that the IDEA of the Hero is misplaced. Is that fair? Were Kobe WORTHY of all this distress, you'd be fine with that? For Believers, I would think Jesus would be an example of a worthy Hero. American value systems are interesting as regards this issue of worthy Heroes. I will mention only one: the American President. I am not a student of international politics, but I know a little. . .and I have never heard of a Head of State elected in a fair election by the people who has the staggering amount of individual power enjoyed by the American President. Just one example: thru Administrative Orders or Executive Privilege or whatever they're calling it, the President can pretty well do any fucking thing he wants. I suppose he'd be pushing it to directly and arrogantly break the law for personal gain, but Trump has done major things 200+ times in 3 years and a few months (as did Pres. Obama before him), just because he liked an idea. What interests me here in the Romantic side of the American national character, that its legislators would vest such awesome power in ONE person. The faith that takes is monumental. It is, I would suggest a faith focused on creating a Hero, a Worthy Hero. I was studying in the USA when Kennedy was assassinated. From the grieving, it was clear that most Americans felt their personal Hero had been struck down.

    Just a few thoughts to kick around. v
  10. Smith's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by clark
    Winston -- I agree. No one outside the people directly impacted by their kindness and compassion weeps the weep for the unsung heroes (gee! that might catch on!) in every community in every corner of the globe. Perversely, they are responsible for livingthe values that are projected over time by the tribe on a Hero. How many quietly courageous, strong, morally dedicated, unknown warriors did it take before a battle-obsessed tribe like the Anglo-Saxons defined that single Hero in its legends and stories, culminating finally in a poet creating Beowulf. I'm confident that, could we push aside the veils of pre-history, we'd find the pantheon of the Greek gods was created by that same tribal impulse to focus the best and worst of its needs on striking Individuals.

    The foundation for your downright bitter and uncompromising rejection of Kobe as a Great Hero is that the adulation pouring out thru the media is dramatically misplaced . . .but not that the IDEA of the Hero is misplaced. Is that fair? Were Kobe WORTHY of all this distress, you'd be fine with that? For Believers, I would think Jesus would be an example of a worthy Hero. American value systems are interesting as regards this issue of worthy Heroes. I will mention only one: the American President. I am not a student of international politics, but I know a little. . .and I have never heard of a Head of State elected in a fair election by the people who has the staggering amount of individual power enjoyed by the American President. Just one example: thru Administrative Orders or Executive Privilege or whatever they're calling it, the President can pretty well do any fucking thing he wants. I suppose he'd be pushing it to directly and arrogantly break the law for personal gain, but Trump has done major things 200+ times in 3 years and a few months (as did Pres. Obama before him), just because he liked an idea. What interests me here in the Romantic side of the American national character, that its legislators would vest such awesome power in ONE person. The faith that takes is monumental. It is, I would suggest a faith focused on creating a Hero, a Worthy Hero. I was studying in the USA when Kennedy was assassinated. From the grieving, it was clear that most Americans felt their personal Hero had been struck down.

    Just a few thoughts to kick around. v
    Currently taking a political-science class on American politics. The President has a lot of power, but it seems less unbalanced if you know about the checks and balances from the legislative and judicial branches.

    If you want to talk about a funny example of power, look no further than Marbury v Madison. The Supreme Court gave itself judicial review. And if congress had tried to roll it back, theoretically (this didn't actually happen, but very well could have) the Supreme Court could have declared it un-Constitutional with the judicial review that they had only just given themselves.

    The President's ability to use executive order is a hot-topic. I don't know enough about it myself to have a significant opinion on it, but then again, that's why I'm minoring in political-science. To learn.

    But some good things have happened throughout history. Namely, George Washington not taking advantage of the opportunity to continue being a democratically-elected President until death, and the American government deciding to place a term limit on the presidency after FDR got four terms (dying in office during his unfinished fourth).

    Unlike the judicial and legislative branches, the President *is* the executive branch, essentially. So there's a lot more spotlight on him just because of the ratio of power to person. It would be no different if we had a multi-executive branch (some weird cabinet system where the people appointed the cabinet of the president, and said cabinet members actually had authority to challenge the president), but we only had one Supreme Court justice instead of 9.

    Which, if you followed the circus around Brett Kavanaugh, you would've thought we were deciding whether or not he was fit to be our President.
    Updated February 1st, 2020 at 10:33 PM by Smith
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