Why do so many people insist on holding others to a higher standard than they hold themselves? This is a question that has perplexed me for more than a decade.
The first time I gave it serious consideration was when Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy Jr. died relatively close together in time. There was a discussion among some friends about current events and someone said, “Why is it always the people who offer so much hope to the rest of us that die so suddenly? They could have changed the world.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course, but this woman was serious in that she was counting on these individuals to make the world better.)
An answer popped into my head and immediately rolled out of my mouth. (Those who know me know that this is a common occurrence.) I replied, “ Because we tend to latch onto and depend on people in the public eye, who appear inherently good and who want to make a difference. We put them on pedestals, drop the responsibility in their laps and expect them to change the world for us. So maybe this is the universe’s way of telling us that we have to do the work ourselves, collectively, as one – as one human race.” (I’m paraphrasing again but basically this is what I said.)
The most recent of us who was put up on this pedestal to save the human race from itself is our President, Barack Obama*. Where else was he to go but down when so many put him up on such a ridiculously high a pedestal that he was compared to Jesus Christ for Christ’s sake! (I never saw him as the Second Coming, but as a mere mortal and no better than we’ve sadly come to expect our politicians to be). However, the comparison is right on target for this rant. Yes, dear reader, it’s a rant. This cougar will be roaring this time around. So “buckle your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
The unfortunate fact of the matter is that collectively, humans are sheep; and too many of us are lazy sheep. Generally speaking, we expect others to do the work, be the good guy, change the world – while we sit back, change nothing and wait, obsessed with material things and celebrities. The buck passers follow the lives of Paris, Rhianna, Brangelina, and countless others in the public eye for either their fame, their money, their notoriety – salivating as we wait for one of them to screw up so we can gleefully trash them while gobbling up the dirt we feed on in the trash rag mags. How we love to hate them!
And then, there are the special ones, those who actually accomplish something noteworthy. We hold them in the highest regard (be careful here, this is the mark of doom). Until they make a mistake. We immediately point the finger at these selected ‘chosen ones’ whenever they misstep and fall down to the point where they are human like the rest of us. They are brutally kicked off of their pedestals or thrones, tossed into the rubbish pile with the rest our iconic fascinations and trashed even more vehemently. . . 'because they know better.' They must set an example, they are held to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. Like Michael Phelps, an individual who put aside childish things during his childhood in order to accomplish something extraordinary and - when he decided to sample life like the rest of us - got slammed for it.
Give me a break. On second thought, give him and others like him a break!
And while I’m at it, love him or hate him, give President Clinton* a break. Were his oval office sexual antics appropriate? No. Was he the first? No. Should he have lied? No. But should they even have asked him the question? No. It had nothing to do with governing. It was a private matter and there was family to consider. Yet everyone in the public and private sector strung him up. Congress was the biggest group of hypocrites. The documented material on the sex that goes on IN the Capitol building would comprise a hardcore porn miniseries for a 6 year run. And the private sector? The you’s and me’s? None of us have ever done anything wrong, have we?! “But we’re not the President!” “But we aren’t Olympic champions!” So what. We are all representatives of our country. We are all supposed to set an example and be heroes. We are all equal. And we all make mistakes. We need to hold ourselves to the highest standard before we judge anyone else. So unless you are the one without sin, don’t cast stones.
Messiah or not, Jesus was a very wise man.
* The use of political figures for this blog was strictly for their connection to my point. Although both examples were Democrats, I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I’m a moderate who votes according to pertinent issues. So please, no political fodder in your responses!
Next Up: Jesus the Scapegoat – Why we shouldn’t keep him on that ridiculously high pedestal.