Deifying the Flawed Man

Cancel culture is rampant throughout the world right now as we know it. If a person isn’t 100% in line with the “flavor of the week” cause they are ruthlessly culled from the ranks of the “good” and instantly cast as wicked, evil, and on the “wrong side of history”. That last phrase is one I particularly dislike because unless our descendants place us upon pedestals to be worshiped, history should remember us for both the good and the bad we do in our lives.

But how does this work? Any historian can tell you that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., et al, were flawed men. They meant well and set in motion events which would change human history as we know it. Human history which is wealthier, healthier, and safer than it ever has been. They brought about true change to society and should rightly be honored for their achievements. These men (Jefferson in particular) were flawed individuals, however. They made mistakes and were not the angelic beings children are taught in schools. In no way does it diminish what they accomplished, however. We cannot apply our current political climates towards their lives and ideology of the time.

We do this today still. We place these celebrities upon these pedestals and raise them high into the sky, worshiping them almost as the Greeks did to their gods two thousand years ago. However, unlike today’s society, the Greeks knew their gods were flawed individuals. They acknowledged the flaws of their gods and wrote stories about them. I mean, if Zeus were alive today, people would call him the Lizard King and not Jim Morrison.

Humans were not meant to be perfect. We are an imperfect species doing the best we can to build a society in which we can live in. However, there is a saying I’m both fond and terrified of that has been floating around the internet for a few years now from G. Michael Hopf’s novel, “THOSE WHO REMAIN“. It goes like this:

Hard times create strong men.

Strong men create good times.

Good times create weak men.

And, weak men create hard times.

Right now, I believe, we are entering the end stages of this quote. We are creating our own hard times because we vilify those who disagree with us. Families are torn apart over stupid things like politics, sports, religion… yes, all stupid things to fight over. Even religion. Because without the strong family core, what good is it to have religion? What good is it to belong to a political party if you cannot have the backbone given by a strong family behind you? (Even though I was one hell of an athlete in high school and college, I’ll be one of the first to admit sports is nothing but a distraction these days)

Yet we deify these men and women to the point where they need to be flawless, blameless. Politicians, athletes, authors… all worry about being the next person to be called out, to be “canceled”. It was actually strange to see J.K. Rowling stand up to the online mobs gunning for her for daring to speak an opinion of her own, instead of following lock-step with the mobs. I have no idea whether she’s right or not (I’m a Libertarian — we really don’t care what you have in your pants, as long as you’re not infringing upon the rights of others), but I am impressed with her refusal to back down. Of course, when you have almost as much money as the Queen of England, you can get away with a little bit of stubbornness. I do believe eventually she’ll fold, apologize, and she’ll be attacked even more because someone out there has created this idol in some god-like imagery of what they believe Rowling should act and talk like, ignoring the fact that she is a woman of her own free will and mind. I hope not, but recent history suggests this.

There’s an individual out there who I detest personally, but he has some very salient points about how to deal with those who are in the midst of creating the hard times. The phrase “never apologize” is tossed around and, quite frankly, it makes sense. Back when we were children, we were taught to apologize if we hurt someone. But we were also told not to apologize unless we were sincere about it. The flip side to this coin is when we apologize to someone who isn’t sincere about being hurt, but is weaponizing their own aggrieved sensibilities to lash out and do harm. This is what happened with Rowling and countless others the past few years. It’s happening around the U.S. and the world right now. We are attempting to rewrite history because warped sensibilities demand apologies for events we no longer have control over.

We are simple humans. We are not gods. We will make mistakes. We will not be perfect individuals. Everyone has mistakes they’ve made in the past. We can’t cancel those mistakes with a few protests, however. That’s unrealistic to do so, and demeans the impact individuals of the past had upon the creation of our society today. Whitewashing the past does not make it go away, but instead invites a return to the hard times which were before said individuals stood up and tried to change things.

One egregious example is the current push by people for modern day segregation. Someone thought it was a good idea to have people separated by race once more, which is absolutely stupid. If America is truly the melting pot of the world, why are we trying to segregate people by race and nationalities? It makes no sense at all. To be one nation, undivided, means we need to melt together. Flawed he might have been, but Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who understood what needed to be done. He risked being beaten, arrested, vilified, and ruined financially and emotionally every single time he spoke out against racism and segregation. He knew his affairs would be made public by those who wanted to discredit him, yet he fought anyway to end segregation, for equal rights for all. And now it seems society wants to throw it all away for… what? I’m not sure. I don’t understand it.

We want heroes in our lives. But we can’t deify a man or woman. It would demean them as human beings, and we cannot forget that we are just human. Black, white, everything in between… really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. When we die, when the flesh withers and rots, our souls leave the body, or we are reincarnated, or we simply die… all that remains is the bones of a human being. In the end, that’s all we have left — our humanity.

5 thoughts on “Deifying the Flawed Man

  1. It’s worse than “If a person isn’t 100% in line with the “flavor of the week” ” If, you posted something 3 years ago that doesn’t line up with Today’s “Flavor”, you risk ‘cancellation’. It’s enough to make a person cynical.

  2. Very well thought out post, Jason. (Of course, I expect nothing less. ;))

    We all are flawed, imperfect human beings. We can only be the best we can, and forgetting what history is doesn’t do that. It just shoves us into another teeny, tiny box. And what good are those teeny, tiny boxes for, anyway?

    I want folks to realize we’re all human, all fallible, all mortal, and for people to realize that we need to see underneath these superficial differences to the human beings beneath. You’re right that it’s our humanity that matters. Nothing else need apply.

  3. This is thoughtful and very well balanced observation of the complications of what is sometimes called ‘The Human Condition’.
    We do indulge in these frenetic lurches of opinion and insist ours must be the correct and only one, and any person who steps out of line is the be condemned.
    As you argue no one is perfect, no one is above the rest and we all, as it were ‘sin’
    It would be nice if those who claim to be enlightened, liberal and ‘tolerant’ did not act like as mirror images of those who actually embrace intolerance as a creed.
    Sometimes I feel we are in an age of what I term ‘The New Fascism’ where the mindset is everything you disagree with is to be crushed and the only truth is that which you agree with on social media.
    Keep up your good work

  4. I love this post! And yes, I agree with “never apologize.” Because here’s another little secret about the cancel culture mob…it’s never enough. If you actually try to please them and fit their criteria of a “good” person, they will still criticize you for not being perfect. So you are just setting yourself up for more beatings. It’s pointless. Better to accept from the start that you will never make them happy and go on with your own life.

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