“Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
(there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in~”
Well, one of my students recently had his first child. To be clear, his wife did most of the work, but still he became a father—at least until a DNA test proves otherwise.
My niece Abby will soon be my third niece to get married. I’m now at 75 percent on nieces and 50 percent on nephews. Four down, two to go!
Another student from our school died of brain cancer. She had five kids and was one of the healthiest people on the planet. A little note for you health nuts out there: when your time is up, it’s up.
So I guess I’m at the age where the young people I know are growing up, and the formerly young people I know are growing old and dying. I have stopped thinking of myself as “The Kid” and have gone straight to “The Old Man.” And it happened right under my nose, while I thought I was watching but wasn’t. I guess life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans. Thanks, John Lennon, for that little pearl.
And heroes in my life? Well, they’ve had their ups and downs. In no particular order:
Bill Cosby, once one of the most loved and respected people in the country,has been found to be a serial rapist (alleged?).
Amelia Earhart wasn’t such a hot pilot, and neither was Charles Lindbergh. Both were on the verge of losing their aviation licenses before they made history. Lindbergh was also a racist Nazi supporter.
Lance Armstrong beat cancer to start a worldwide foundation and won the toughest endurance race ever, multiple times. Then he was found to have cheated.
John Lennon was a misogynist who beat his wives. He even sang about it in a little song called It’s Getting Better All the Time: “I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved. Man, I was mean, but I’m changing me scene. I’m doing the best that I can.”
Mother Teresa, a saint, has been proven to have provided “haphazard” medical care at best and to have forced deathbed conversions to Catholicism at worst. It’s true! Check out Wikipedia
Tiger Woods was one of the youngest golfers ever to win at his level. He cheated on his wife and hasn’t been relevant since.
Winston Churchill tortured and starved the Indian people. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves.
It goes on and on, and it’s easy to get down about it. “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” someone once said. It was Harvey Dent, “Two-Face” of Batman fame, but the quote is still true. Sooner or later, we look at our heroes, the people we admire, and we find it. My professors in school called it hamartia—a fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine.
But now, before you go thinking I’m harshing your buzz and bringing you down, let me tell you something else. For every death of a friend, there is a birth; for every flaw we find in our heroes, there is an obstacle that was overcome to do something great. I’ve always believed that a life well lived is not measured solely by what is achieved but by what is achieved in relation to the tools with which one is provided. Not one of us will ever be gifted with flawlessness, and the fact that these people overcame their weaknesses and shortcomings to achieve greatness is the point, isn’t it. These flaws, when looked at in the right way, become humanizing features (not including Nazi supporters). They remind us that Earhart wasn’t some super-talented pilot who never had to work at it. In fact, she had the nerve and heart to do what other people wouldn’t, even without superior skills. George Washington never won a battle, but the fact that he kept it together long enough to win the war was something only a great person could do. John Lennon wrote and performed some of the most touching music ever, music that inspired peace and love and understanding, so does it matter that he could have used more of those qualities himself? YES, it matters, but it doesn’t disqualify him from being someone who did good things too. I read that Ted Bundy, one of the most pitiful excuses for a human being to ever exist, once saved a drowning boy at a beach. If you had been the boy’s father or mother, would you not have thanked God for Ted Bundy on that day?
My point, and I do have one (I got that from Ellen DeGeneres’s book), is that growing older is a mixed bag of good and bad. Experience breaks down our idealism on many things, but if we are wise, we remember that all of us are human and flawed and to accept people as a whole instead of just as one-dimensional beings, we find that they are like a broken clock (which is right twice a day). No matter how great we think a person is, they have flaws; no matter how bad a person is, they have done something good. I once talked to a friend who said that George Bush was evil. I said that I didn’t think so, that he might or might not be a good president but that he wasn’t evil. “Name one good thing he’s done – Name ONE!” she said. “He sent more aid to the continent of Africa than any other president before or since.” It’s true, he did. It’s comes down to seeing what you want to see. That is not saying that we should wear rose colored glasses; it’s just that we usually see what we want to see. If we want to see a tyrant, there will be evidence to support that, but if we look for good in a person, we will find it.
That’s true throughout time, and it has taken me many years to begin to understand it. Maybe someone will read this and agree—or disagree—but maybe they will give it a try. Everyone, every single one of us, deserves that. In addition, you’ll find that realizing your heroes aren’t perfect at times makes them more heroic . . . except for Donald Trump. Flush that bowl of human waste. Although he did help that little kid find help in his hotel once . . . but then that was only in a movie.
Do you have any hero’s that have taken a recent hit? What do you still like about them?
Odd Loves Company,
Wonderful Post Cousin!
I edited very little—except I might have helped a bit in the very last paragraph. Nobody has looked for the good harder than me. But when you go after the elephants it is permanently over between us. Forever. Remember that.
The last year (and brewing much longer, I think) has forced us to look at the chinks in the armors of our knights. One of the benefits of growing older is life experience and the ability to see the good with the bad. Not that I am getting old or anything.
More coming from Odd soon. I’ve missed Odd and I’ve missed YOU!
Another insightful post on this topic: We Are All Broken – It’s Just Life