(Before It's News)
Yet another hero figure has been upheld in the human annals of greatness.
An embodiment of absolution, the litmus of goodness, is being lauded, lamented and laid to rest by an army of media forces, multiplying and magnetizing crowds of people from all walks of life who are joining the chorus of global citizenry.
Yet our generic, almost scripted reaction of melancholy to the demise of a hero is the real cause for sadness.
Heroes and villains play a prominent, if not integral, role in almost any human narrative.
It’s almost as if the human psyche would have created good and bad if it did not exist in order to console the demons of insecurity and moral ambiguity.
We delude ourselves into thinking that the little acts of kindness we engage in during the course of our lives endow us with the same virtues as famous champions of social justice.
Sure I’d speak up for a fellow comrade at the expense of a peaceful status quo, we tell ourselves, only to find ourselves shying away from trouble in that frenzied moment it creeps up on us, fooling ourselves into believing that in this particular instance, dissidence is futile and that the real chance for heroism will come one day soon.
It’s as if acts of heroism are confined to decisive black-and-white moments that are far removed from the small dilemmas we face in everyday life.
What forms part of the paradigm of a hero, of course, are the odds that made him a hero in the first place.
In the case of Mandela, for instance, a young black boy who tended herds as a cattle-boy, whose entire family was illiterate, who went on to emancipate who French humanist writer Frantz Fanon referred to as “the wretched of the earth” from the shackles of otherness.
The story is of biblical proportions. Man at the bottom of the socio-economic food chain, with nothing to lose, rises to the occasion, embarks on a project, ascends to the cross for humanity and eventually gains unequivocal, iconic recognition, after which, of course, comes power and what we all crave so fervently, triumph. He crossed the finish line from semi-existence and mediocrity to full-fledged validation and security.
In fact, we only ever give a standing ovation to elements of perceived weakness, such as color, ethnicity and poverty, when weakness eventually results in power.
“Good” can no longer be complete with just sacrifice. It must include power the same way that the most prominent evil to people is helplessness, not tyranny.
“He headed a nation despite his lack of education; he made it into parliament in spite of his color.”
It is only when a hero triumphs over the odds that the silver lining emerges from within our penchant for racism, compartmentalization and otherness because otherwise, lets face it, a black is a black and all that entails to a subjective mind and a peasant is a peasant with his predicament of powerlessness.
Our selective stance toward weakness stems from our contempt toward the uncertainty of our future, or rather, the certainty of our expiration.
Mandela maintained that hatred of the other is a matter of nurture, saying that “people must learn to hate,” but many would beg to differ, for contempt stems from fear and the fervent desire for self-preservation, not superiority.
We purposely and unconsciously make heroism unattainable and clap for the Mandelas and Ghandis of the world in the meantime to reassure ourselves that we, too, are good people.
Who from among us would waste 27 years of our preciously crafted lives for an ideal, for some kind of long-term investment in our collective comfort that may or may not culminate in victory?
How many of us would put “life” in its more intense form post-industrial era on hold, indeed, miss out on indulging in primitive, innate desire for financial security and family, for a universalistic ideal?
Christiane Amanpour, a journalist in the “embedded” CNN team, reported Monday that: “His family resented his absence from home.” One of the by-products of having a vision, one could suppose.
In short, the message conveyed by heroes is much more uncomfortable than meets the eye.
What they have essentially taught us is: if you can’t stand for truth in a smaller crowd of family, co-workers or friends for fear of chastisement, you know very little of our struggle and can only fathom it insofar as you have been told it is good. That, sir, is what people have been taught.
Sure, Mandela lived in a simpler time, with less to lose. Yet the virtues involved in abstaining from indulging in “me-ism” are so foreign and so secondary to us nowadays, with the prevalence of an extremely individualist world order, that we’d had better keep them safely stashed in cartoon classics and historical heydays.
That is not to say that one can absolutely conclude that any man or woman renowned for their selflessness is a saint in the absolute sense of the word because the path to stardom can take many forms.
Nevertheless, we indulge in upholding heroes such as Mandela to absolve ourselves from having to be heroes in any shape or form ourselves.
Indeed, our lamenting of a pioneer for justice stems not from our ability to spot good when we see it, but rather, from our own failure to live a life remotely as uncomfortable as his.
That, fellow citizens, is the real cause for mourning, and no amount of flower laying or tribute-laden memorializing can bury that beneath his legacy.