Sunday, May 4, 2014

People On Our Pedestals

People are just people. All people. They're just people.

Have you ever seen someone as more than that, though? Have you seen them put on a pedestal? Have you ever put someone on one yourself? Maybe celebrity or notoriety of some kind is involved... maybe death... or maybe in the case of early relationship infatuation?

Now, to me, putting people up on pedestals comes with two distinct lines of thought -- one that comes with positive and negative manifestations... and one that is just harmful in general.

First, when we put someone above, we have the tendency to see them as better than they actually are. In some ways, this isn't the most awful thing ever. Sometimes I think that if we all spent time thinking better of people than they actually were, maybe that would motivate us all to become better than we actually are. Could we become more because people think more of us?

But.. in this case, I think it's us that we harm when we think abnormally better of someone else. We make them an object of worship, and I think it's us that suffers from that. There's something inherently unhealthy in it that hurts us.

But second, and this is what I think hurts those that we worship more, when we put people up too high, we take from them their right to be human. We expect them to be worthy of our respect and our love and our idolization.  But, we can't stand to idolize that which isn't perfect... and so we expect those we've chosen to raise up to behave as more than human.

We take from them their right to mess up, and to make mistakes, and choose things that maybe they wish they hadn't. Because when they do that, we penalize them -- and by far more than we would ever think to penalize anyone "down here" with us.

And so... I think we have to be careful about what we do about the people we admire. Admiring them, loving them, respecting them.... these are all good things. But I think that we have to mindful of how easily that admiration can turn into idolization -- and we have to remember that people are just people.

No matter how other-worldy we try to make them.

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