On role models and hypocrisy

I don’t know where it started nor why it persists so strongly. I could believe an argument that it makes a great headline and in this age of 24/7 breaking news, such stories are easy money. I could also believe an argument that we are horribly insecure about our faults and when faced with someone that inspires us, we are secretly relieved to find reason to let ourselves off the hook.

Of course I’m talking about when the role model falls. 
What is odd about the scenario is how we got to a place where we expect our sports heroes to be examples of great moral fiber or our political leaders to be without past transgressions. There is a moment when humanity catches up with everyone, but for some reason, our role models are expected to ascend above this.
We have lost the literal sense of the phrase role model and exchanged it for person model or life model where any noted imperfection is a disqualifying mark. 
I can’t say I don’t agree that those in highly influential positions should be held to a higher standard, and I am pleased when the role model does the right thing and disappointed when they inevitably do the wrong thing. That said, I do not think that mistakes – no matter how grave – affect the reality of the role that was once admired. I don’t know why you would celebrate a tech leader’s failed project as the sign they are a fraud. A religious leader’s moral failures, a brilliant mind’s ignorance, an overachiever’s regression to the mean. 
It seems to me to be both more useful and more human to approach these situations with more heartbreak and humility for the fallen. That we should not mourn the death of our heroes but share in the pain of their stumble and root for them to pick themselves up again.

About joeldart

I am a 29 year old software developer living in Indianapolis, IN.
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