How the mighty have fallen

You’re my hero.

Such a simple phrase, yet it carries so much weight. We put so much stock into our heroes — possibly too much. When they fall, we feel bad. But we still move on. We usually move on quickly, too.

After that, we find a new hero. Usually, it’s almost like nothing ever happened at all.

Today, many of our heroes are built to fail.

Recently, Olympic gold-medalist Marion Jones pleaded guilty to lying to a federal investigator about taking banned substances. Yes, this includes her amazing run in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Jones, who has always been viewed as a premier role model, has taken a colossal hit in the court of public opinion. Her squeaky-clean image has been all but forgotten. She used a performance-enhancing substance. She lied about it. She is no longer a hero.

Game over. Please choose a new hero.

Jones is not the only one, either.

Many young girls grew up idolizing teen pop phenom Britney Spears, and it took her a while to lose her hero status. The skimpy outfits and suggestive music videos did not do it. It was the broken marriage, amazingly bizarre behavior and recent custody loss of her children that were the final straws for Spears. Another unlikely hero falls. Another one was born.

Even some of the greatest heroes from the past have been publicly ridiculed to the point of losing their hero-obtained luster. President John F. Kennedy, still the apple of many eyes, lost a lot of respect when his flings with Marilyn Monroe became evident.

Former home-run king Mark McGwire inadvertently reinforced doubts about his numerous athletic achievements when he stated before Congress that he was “not here to speak about the past” in a hearing that was held to uncover the truth.

Another hero falls. Another new hero ascends to new heights.

Rinse, repeat.

In today’s society, many things are recyclable. Whether we realize it, our alleged heroes carry a lot of weight in the lives of many people. For Marion Jones to tumble as badly as she has, an entire generation of aspiring female athletes has likely lost its role model. But don’t fret. A new hero is on the horizon. That’s just how we operate.

Putting people on such a high pedestal creates a very interesting situation. The situation gets increasingly interesting when they move closer to the edge. As they get closer and closer to the edge, more people will pay attention. When they finally fall, it seems expected.

In today’s world of public opinion, we create our heroes as such larger-than-life figures that we view them more in an object-driven manner, instead of as actual living, breathing humans. In turn, we dehumanize their emotions when something happens to knock them off their pedestals. Instead of naturally feeling bad and thinking about why something happened, many of us are trained to simply move on to the next case of idolatry.

The problem is not that we have heroes.

The problem is that we treat them wrongly. In today’s world of easily accessible information, it is ridiculously easy to find dirt on nearly anyone.

Instead of grabbing a shovel to dig for more dirt, maybe it is time that we open our eyes and view these people as humans – not objects.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.