Two entries inside of a week? Tell me about it. There’s a method to my madness mainly because there’s a lot on the brain. Well, this particular part has been spooling since early December. But, anyway…
Like most men, I’ve been watching a lot of sports lately. As a child, I grew up watching the likes of Michael Jordan and those great 90’s basketball teams alongside with Michael Irvin and those great 90’s football teams. I think it would be safe to say just how much all of us wanted to be like those men when we got older. But, as we get older, how much like those people did we really want to be? History is repute with those who have tried and failed to live up to the legacy that they have set. However, there are those whose efforts have been met with criticism because they aren’t consistent with the level in which these men or women achieved their accomplishments. So, what is it about them that makes so drawn to them? Is it their measurables? Is it their statistical accomplishments? Or, is it something more?
Michael Irvin, I guess you can say for lack of a better way to put it, is my hero. But, I don’t want to really call him that. Sure, he is someone I look up to in many ways. I am captivated by his professional body of work. I believe that his life outside of football is worthy of a story. But, is he really my hero? I admire the man but I don’t idolize him. I’m grateful for him but not grateful to him.
First, I feel like I have to define what a hero is. The dictionary defines a hero as “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” I don’t think Mr. Irvin is noble. He is indeed fallible in many respects. He is, after all, a human being. Human beings can make mistakes. I’m confident that he would attest to that. I don’t think he is admired or idealized for courage simply because he isn’t the epitome of regress. I will admit that it does take courage to accept responsibility for actions in his past that do not endear him to his predecessors or contemporaries. I do believe him to be admired for his outstanding achievements in his profession. He was a terror for defensive backs and did so with unrelenting passion.
But, did this man save my life? Did this man give me an opportunity where there was none? Did this man take me into his home and make me one of his own? Did this man affect my life in any way that would make me devote myself or feel like I’m indebted to him? No, he did not. It’s because of these things, I don’t consider him my hero.
But, what is a hero really? Is a hero a civil servant? No, they’re paid to protect the public trust. It’s their job to do protect property and serve the public trust. Many would argue that they are more than this. I’d argue in favor that statement. They do more than their job description entails and don’t get the appreciation they deserve. Yeah, Jeff… I see you, buddy!
Are your parentals heroes? I’d hope not considering that they spawned you, the least they could do is take care of you until you’re old enough to make decisions and take care of yourself. Are athletes or artists heroes? OH, HELL NO! They both get paid millions of dollars to either play a game or express their talents to the masses. There’s nothing noble about that. If you look at some of these men and women in modern times, it is a testament to just how far what constitutes “talent” has gone down hill. The only thing noble for them may be their dedication to their craft.
Are athletes or artists heroes? OH, HELL NO! They both get paid millions of dollars to either play a game or express their talents to the masses. There’s nothing noble about that. If you look at some of these men and women in modern times, it is a testament to just how far what constitutes “talent” has gone down hill. The only thing noble for them may be their dedication to their craft.
Is Jesus a hero? Some would argue that He is and some would argue against it. Personally, I don’t think so because first of all, I didn’t ask to be here. I didn’t ask for his “divine countenance.” Second of all, when it came right down to it, he was just as selfish as everyone else when he wanted to live. That isn’t heroism in any sense. That is a finely honed sense of self-preservation. Had He gotten his way, he wouldn’t have been crucified. He probably would have lived to a ripe old age. But, since it is hard to have a New Testament without a dead Jesus, it so happened that he gets screwed and killed for his troubles. Now, it doesn’t mean that He wasn’t a good dude and that he wasn’t someone to admire. I’m saying that it doesn’t make him a hero to me. Even then, if He did fit my criteria, divinity is a disqualifier for me. Divinity is corruptive as it makes people conspire for its sake instead of inspiring for its sake.
So, I guess the real question is, “What is a hero to me?” Truth is, I don’t know what would constitute a hero in my eyes. It would be safe to say that I share a similar sentiment about the word “hero” and any of its derivatives that I do about the word “love.” However, maybe not to the same extent for “hero.” I just believe that the meaning and intent behind it have been awarded to circumstances that don’t merit it. These days, a hero can be someone who simply does the right thing. To me, it’s just senseless to recognize someone for doing what they’re supposed to do. Well, hopefully, what they’re supposed to do.
I have an idea of what characteristics a hero is supposed to have. Would my hero be brave? Absolutely! Would my hero be courageous? Most definitely. Would my hero have a fierce determination and an unshakable resolve? Sure!
Would my hero be honorable? I hope so. Would my hero have to do something grand to gain my admiration and respect? They don’t have to do anything grand. Would my hero have to save my life? Well, no… Would my hero give up his life to save mine? HELL NO! I fucking hope not.
Does my hero have to be any more or any less the person they are? Well, that’s the thing now, isn’t it?
We want our heroes to exceed the sum of their parts. We want our heroes to do the impossible. We want to exaggerate their talent or deeds to something legends are made of and it isn’t fair. Talent isn’t mythical nor acts done in accordance with them meant to be lifted to that level. We want to our heroes to be larger than life. Maybe that’s why I don’t have one. I can’t imagine placing someone on that level. To me, it’s just like loving someone. We can elaborate on what one does and what skills or traits they employ, but those things don’t explain what one is nor could ever hope to do so. There’s this unrealistic expectation of ability versus the capacity to fulfill it. How can they? How can they when we, even as “extraordinary people,” are tempted by the most ordinary things? Hell, we are even to a point where we considering the miraculous an ordinary, everyday happening.
Maybe that’s why I don’t have one. I can’t imagine placing someone on that level. To me, it’s just like loving someone. We can elaborate on what one does and what skills or traits they employ, but those things don’t explain what one is nor could ever hope to do so. There’s this unrealistic expectation of ability versus the capacity to fulfill it. How can they? How can they when we, even as “extraordinary people,” are tempted by the most ordinary things? Hell, we are even to a point where we considering the miraculous an ordinary, everyday happening. So, where is the mystique and mystery of someone or something that we empower in such a way?
Earlier, I mentioned that Michael Irvin is the closest thing to someone I’d call a “hero” and that athletes or artists don’t fall into that category to me.
But, if you look at it closer, you’d see that they do exhibit some of the characteristics that would warrant the comparison. They, night in and night out, get ruthlessly antagonized by their opposition and media for the job they do, or subsequently don’t do. They are imbued with authority because the younger generation looks up to them and they are met with obscene amounts of criticism, both positive and negative when they live up to or fail to meet expectation. Their humanity is harshly magnified when they fail to rise above the insurmountable opposition that is placed before them and made to look like gods when the insurmountable becomes very much so attainable.
What about Jesus and all of the other types I mentioned? Do they suffer or do they still suffer? Sure. Jesus lived much like everyone else does. He didn’t escape criticism, incredulity, skepticism, and duplicity. Civil servants take a lot more heat now than ever because the populous isn’t confident in their ability to protect them and then scream in outrage when the people who are supposed to protect them protect themselves against their constituents. Parents these days have a real chance of failing their children due to the demands that society puts on them by mainstreaming softer parenting tactics in favor of older, less archaic methods.
Nobody mentions the amount that these people suffer. The exultation of triumph is the cure for their misery. However, the painful sting of defeat is the humbling reminder of why their suffering is relevant and much more important. Nobody wants to suffer and those who use their suffering as justification towards being anything less than it has made them is still suffering. The chilling notion of failure isn’t an option for them because that admission of failure might as well be the end.
So, what makes failure so important? For one, the admission of failure is considered taboo. Who wants to admit they’re a failure? It’s like an admission of guilt or defeat and I’ll be damned if anyone will blatantly come out and say it. Everyone wants to be a winner in some respect. A small victory here and there goes a long way but the ultimate goal would to stand tall and claim dominion over their enemies. But, we can’t win all the time and to believe so is foolish.
Which is why Mr. Irvin is what he is to me. He is an admitted sufferer and failure.
So, what’s the point?
My point here is that I don’t believe there to be such things. It’s a word we would use to encompass the person who rescued us in our time of need. It’s a word that we would use for someone who gave us hope when we had none. It’s just a word with no special meaning or intent other than to describe the level in which we esteem another. Much like “love.” It’s an extent to which we attribute the impact of the actions of another.
Michael Irvin didn’t rescue me. He didn’t give me hope. He didn’t sacrifice anything for me.
However, the life of this man did change me. He was a cocaine addict. He was not a sober-minded individual for a part of his life. He failed to live up to expectations of his peers and superiors. He suffered harsh consequences for his indiscretions.
However, the man did make the decision to kick his habit and rid himself of that addiction. He held himself accountable for his mistakes and chose to no longer suffer because of them. He found success on and off the field and retired as a three-time champion and is now forever enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The man is not godlike. He didn’t conquer seemingly impossible odds. All he did was just be the man that he is. Nothing more and nothing less.
That, my friends, is what I would call a hero… if there was such a thing.