International Politics

Heroes in the Modern World


The passing of Nelson Mandela has brought out every sort of media commentator, person with a blog, and Twitter users to say many things.  Now, some people talk about Mandela as some sort of god-like hero meant to be worshiped for his great deeds. Others are quick to remind you that he was human, with faults and those in his political party weren’t always as upright and moral as he was. Others are then quick to remind you of the faults of your own nation when talking about the memory of this man.

My question is, are we allowed to remember people as great heroes?  People in the United States love to do this–reminding people that the founding fathers were not perfect men. But does the fact that these men were not perfect and some of these men did some very bad things change the accomplishments of these men?  Does the fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves change the fact that he was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence?  Does the fact that Kennedy was a womanizer change what he did during his historic 100 days in office?

Maybe it’s the fault of Watergate that we–I am only speaking about people from the United State–in general, don’t have blind faith in leaders.  It’s difficult for us to hero-worship. And even when we create heroes, like movie superheros, they must have faults.  We cannot have a 1950s Superman who only stands for “truth, justice, and the American way,” anymore. We have to have a hero who has made good and bad choices.  Maybe it’s more realistic. But is it wrong to remember a great leader like Nelson Mandela for what his accomplishments stood for?

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