I'm thinking today about - for lack of a better name to call it - hero worship.
What is it about the human animal that causes so many of us to idolize and want to be just like others? You see this everywhere you look. Just think about it.
I love to read the comments section of items I find online. One of the more obnoxious aspects of this is seeing all the screen names of people who "assumed" the identity of other well known humans (Darwin, Voltaire, Martin Luther, Thomas Jefferson, Buddha, etc.). Is their thinking that this somehow lends validity to their views?
"What would Jesus do?" we are often asked to ponder. I wonder why it matters. Jesus, I suppose, is important to many because he is thought to be the Son of God in some unique sense that others cannot be. Some think that not only is he the Son of God, but that he is God also (try to figure that one out). Therefore, the logic goes, one shouldn't have an opinion that is out of harmony with his (although, when you think about it, there is so little known about what he did think about this or that, and, so far as we have been able to determine, he left nothing of his own thoughts in writing and what we do have written about him by others is hopelessly contradictory and perhaps just plain wrong).
We are often asked to think about what our Founding Fathers would think about this or that issue. Does it matter? Like Jesus and every other historical figure, they spoke to their own times. Some principles may be timeless, it is true, but so also is this fact: people change and adapt to new circumstances. Except when they are dead and have been for long periods of time.
What would Jesus have changed in his teaching had he the benefit of seeing the past two thousand years of history and no establishment of the Kingdom of God which he thought was "at hand" and would be established while some of his disciples were still living?
Can we believe that our great presidents like Jefferson and Lincoln, were they still living, would have maintained their belief that the white race is superior to the black? Would science-minded American greats such as Jefferson and Franklin have altered their views about the Creator and Nature's God had they lived in a post-Darwin age? I think so, at least somewhat - and who knows how much more?
We do ourselves a great disservice when we forget that history's people of renown had feet of clay just as we have. And while there are a lot of these folk who inspire us today, we shouldn't have them up on a pedestal (figuratively speaking) above the great minds of today. In the distant future, others will stand on our shoulders and rise above us.
In my mind, hero worship stands in the way of progress. The question shouldn't be what would this or that person have done back in their day or if somehow they lived in ours - the question is, what should we do now?
And please don't get me wrong. I draw inspiration and often marvel at the incredible wisdom and foresight of some of our predecessors. But their contemporaries were well aware of their shortcomings and humanness. Should would be less aware of their limitations?