Where Have All the Heroes Gone?
It's funny how our tastes in heroes evolve over the years. When you're young, you idolize all sorts of people: quarterbacks, superheroes, J.J. from Good Times, eccentric bus drivers, guys with earrings who work at mall kiosks, people with candy, kids who can do back flips off monkey bars -- we're pretty easy to impress.
As you age, your standards increase. You start looking for reasons to dislike people.
Ultimately you reach an age when your reserves of admiration, awe, and reverence start to run dry. We find out that our heroes are flawed, just like us. We start assuming the worst about people. First it's a slow fade into indifference about people and things you used to be very impressed with. As we get older and find more to complain about, indifference can sink into cynical derision, bitterness, and even contempt.
It seems that age and the capacity to look up to people are inversely related. Surely bitterness and jealousy play a role in this. Arrogance too. We have this disturbing tendency to assume (and sometimes hope for) the worst about people; which appears to intensify with age and experience. Watching one high profile spiritual leader after another fall from grace fuels this unholy fire.
I've admittedly reached the place in my life where cynicism and skepticism generally smother my ability to be impressed with people, It inhibits my desire to even be on the lookout for mentors, role models, and heroes. My sense of wonder is gone. I'm quite certain this is a terrible thing.
I suppose an inevitability of living life, watching TV, reading the news and interacting with other human beings is to gain a fuller understanding of our depravity across the board. Seeing mankind in action leaves no doubt that we're all deeply flawed and capable of savagery at a moment's notice. Yet while we've all fallen and will continue to do so, surely there are men and women out there who can speak richly into our lives?
There are always people to learn from -- if we can just humble ourselves enough to do so. We need heroes and role models because we shrivel without guidance, wise counsel or inspiration.
So is it possible to recapture the innocence of a child-like reverence, or are we destined to grow more skeptical and hard-hearted as we age and get battered by life? Is there a cure for this obnoxious creeping smugness?
Our sinfulness makes us quick to judge, mock, scorn, disregard, and fault-find. Our wickedness makes us think we're awesome and don't need other people, and keeps us on the prowl for things to be vengeful and self-righteous about.
But the emulation of Christ can breed humility and other good things within us, like our capacity to admire other people instead of viewing them as rivals, hypocrites or enemies. God's supernatural, humbling, healing grace is the most effective antidote against the scourge of cynicism as we age.