I contributed to a blog today on http://www.theherohandbook.com/greg-mortenson-used-to-be-my-hero/#comment-278
Rob Sambosky June 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm #
In my work with prisoner resettlement I dealt with the issue of a fallen hero last year.
An exprisoner worked with me for four years, becoming in many ways the son of my life. He and I had many discussions about a couple of issues relating to your topic. The first was the reality of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde split in our personalities. By his report he had been a violent drug dealer, gang leader, and pimp during his Hyde periods. Like many other men and women coming out of the street life, he overestimated the power of his will to keep Mr. Hyde in check. His Mr. Hyde ultimately killed him during one of John’s relapses.
Protestant theologian Paul Tillich wrote about God in terms of Ultimate Concern. Anything that is an ultimate concern becomes god for us, demanding complete surrender and promising ultimate satisfaction. According to Tillich, only the Divine as Ultimate Concern delivers ultimate satisfaction; any other concern becomes demonic and leads to our destruction. The problem is that we can delude ourselves into thinking a demonic concern is divine, rationalizing our lust for money, power, sex, fame (for example) and allowing Mr. Hyde to stay out of view.
John thought he could dress his demon in Christian Rap garb. But he still had a dangerous preoccupation with “prosperity Gospel,” which I saw as rank materialism and magical thinking. I tried to talk to John using the Dedalus/Iccarus myth, but alas, he flew too near the sun.
Yes, there will need to be a balanced assessment of your hero’s life. But absent a personal acknowledgement on our parts that Mr./Ms. Hyde is real in each of us, and then working to ensure we have transparency and accountability structures in place to protect our work against him or her, this can happen to any one of us.
We’re never out of the woods, and this is reason for concern but not cynicism.