No More Heroes
People always say that you should never meet your heroes. I think that this advice is even more pertinent now than it ever was in the past. Every time you look at the headlines yet another person has become embroiled in some scandal or public debacle.
The recent happenings regarding Richard Stallman have made me think a lot about this. I am sure that there are many people who did—and perhaps still do—look up to Richard Stallman as their personal hero. For the record, I am not one of those people. But there are other people in software who I have made my hero at one point or another. Whether some of those people are worthy of the lofty pedestal I placed them on is debatable.
Over time it has come to my attention that some of my once-called heroes are not as great as I made them out to be. People have problematic views, say insensitive things, and make mistakes constantly. After all, they are just as human as the rest of us.
It is time for us to declare hero bankruptcy. No more heroes.
Instead of elevating other people to extraordinary heights in our minds we should instead elevate the qualities and values that we associate with them. Singling out individual values allows for a greater degree of separation between the things that make us seek out heroes in the first place and the troublesome humanity that those heroes carry along with them. Given enough time, any human heroes will eventually let you down. What won't let you down are the timeless values that made you make someone your hero in the first place.