RIP, Kobe Bryant.
This is a good time to look at our need for heroes. Was Kobe a rapist? Was he also a good family man? Aren’t we all three-dimensional creatures, full of both good and bad elements? My old friend Hazel had a sampler on her wall that said, “There’s so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us.”
A friend of mine recently spoke about the acceptance, if not worship, of drug-addicted artists in our culture. It used to be a badly-kept secret when a jazz musician or singer would have a drug problem; scandals in Hollywood were built on alcohol and other drug problems. Then along came the “27” club, many rock musicians who died at that age. The mystique grew. With marijuana illegal, and the government lying to us about it, we stopped believing anything the guys in suits said. Many of us were caught up in criminal activity; a lot of people died. Many ruined their lives. And a lot of confused, lost, talented people became heroes. And where are we now? Marijuana is finally being recognized as a benign and medically useful plant. Big Pharma has revealed itself as the irresistible drug pusher of our nightmares. Everything’s turned around.
So, who can we have as heroes? Or maybe “role model” is a better term. Sports figures? Warriors? We know the Chess Club never gets the acclaim reserved for the football team. And, we know we need warriors to keep us free. But we must look at the whole person. Is it wrong to look for the complete person, the ideal citizen, as someone to emulate? To say to your children, be like her? Decent, kind, honest: these are the words for my role models.
Fred Vainas, Marblehead