After all the craziness in Charlottesville, I started thinking about statues and monuments and why we continue to think they are good ideas. Why do we exalt ordinary human beings to god-like status? We’re only setting ourselves up for disappointment.
I was raised Catholic and I always thought that was a huge problem within the church. They treated priests and bishops and cardinals and the Pope as if they were above everyone else. We were taught that they were virtually infallible. The Pope, is quite literally said to be infallible. And then you have an event like the child sex-abuse scandal that engulfed the church.
I went to Penn State as well, Joe Paterno was elevated to god-like status in that community. Now, I love my college football and I loved Joe Paterno. But I didn’t really love Joe Paterno, I loved my perception of Joe Paterno. I didn’t have a clue who Joe Paterno really was. I only saw a controlled, calculated version of him. And this is just one example. We all do it with our favorite musicians, athletes, authors, etc. We love and celebrate our idea of them, but so very few of us actually know who they really are.
I keep thinking that maybe we should put a moratorium on statues and monuments to human beings. We don’t really know them and so we play a very dangerous game when we elevate them to such lofty heights. At the end of the day, all of these people are and were flawed individuals just like the rest of us. Some of them turn out to be heinous criminals. Maybe we could make monuments to ideas and movements instead of continuing to perpetuate myths and ideals that cannot possibly be lived up to by mere human beings.