Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Anti-Hero (and The Hero) - Lessons ?

Today - we have "important" personalities such as Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and more in the background now Osama bin Laden. Recently we had George W. Bush and Mahmood Ahmadinejad. In our pasts (depending upon how old we are) we have people such as: Saddam Hussein, Colin Powell, Newt Gingrich, Imelda Marcos, Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy and many others.

In popular culture in the U.S. are people such as: LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Michael Jackson.

Also there are/were others such as: Steven Spielberg, Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Stephen King, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart and of course many more.

Frequently we take individuals and make them into icons whether it the "superhero" or "super villain" (or both, depending upon the viewer). Almost no one today in the U.S. would see Osama bin Laden or Mahmood Ahmadinejad in any image besides the horrificly "bad guy". Sarah Palin today is seen as a buffoon by many, and as a true hero by some.

Daniel Ortega was viewed either extremely negatively or extremely positively in the mid-80's depending upon one's politics. Today, though he's still around, he's a non-entity to most, almost forgotten in the distant past.

We often seek the heroic personality such as today - Barack Obama. We want and expect him to take us out of very dark times and to miraculously move us out of our pain and hurt. Similarly we seek to pillory others such as George W. Bush or Dick Cheney as causes as to why we hurt.

As the first Iraq War began I heard Noam Chomsky speak in Berkeley eloquently of how the U.S. would face a minimum of six weeks of brutal warfare with thousands of (U.S.) casualties. As the War then ended rapidly I learned that though I admire Chomsky and his ideas, he is only human, not a "god".

I hope today and in the future we will look to the ideas and issues around us. We can and should not get stuck in the personalities and the cults of individuals worshiping and demonizing them.

Understanding radical Islam, Evangelical Christianity, racism and how we in the U.S. are both powerful and weak are all important. Building lasting movements for positive change using the words and ideas of people such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Shirley Chisholm, Paul Robeson, Oliver Sachs, Sean Penn, and many others will help us far more than simply worshipping them as idols.

We can learn from the good and bad around us. It is often easiest to look for the simple extremes. It is much harder to learn at a deeper level and to do the difficult work to really make things better.



Freida Bee said...

I am in a teaching program and about half of my teachers are teaching people how to become teachers and the others are teachers who may or may not care much about teaching and I have found that frustrating oftentimes. Sometimes the best thing I get out of a class is how not to teach. (But, of course, I'll say nothing so arrogant from the second I start to be the teacher of record, I can assure you.)

On the way up to my in-laws for t-giving I finally listened to a speech of Noam Chomsky's that we had in our iTunes. He is a very sane man and a marvelous critic where criticism is due and had some just downright pragmatic suggestions, mainly, "Pick your cause and get to work." (Somewhere in my mockery, I even used his words "enlightened states" (completely inappropriately, of course.)

Mimi Von Huffnsnort said...

(Oh, and my point in that first paragraph is that there can be too many of those who show us the wrong way, but not of those who show us the right way- uhh, like there is one right way, but.... Well, crap.)

Mimi Von Huffnsnort said...

(Oops, did I say that?)

geo said...

Freida Bee,

You make at least a good point in your responses (maybe more I'm not fully seeing) - related to - learning from Others who can give us so much.

I was also thinking - of both heroes - who really weren't always that heroic - i.e. John F. Kennedy - who really was a s__t - on Civil Rights nearly all of his Presidency - while he's seen (incorrectly)as such a hero on Civil Rights.

Another part - is how we HeroIcize - some pretty good Folks - and sometimes Miss the Need to DO things - like somehow keeping our Obama signs and bumper stickers - while encouraging - won't change much and - isn't that much different than in earlier days - "patriotic" (sic) people - having their USian Flags everywhere.

Plenty of - "actors" - are good at their "shows" - but aren't necessarily Good People nor necessarily do they know a lot outside of what they are good at.

Hopefully - you'll learn a lot - that will help you be a good Math Teacher! No doubt you are learning - in much of what you do in your life - as a parent, partner, friend, activist - etc.

Thanks again!

geo said...

Oops -I'm sorry - I should have thanked you both - Freida Bee and Mimi- I apologize!

Freida of the Bees said...

I see your point.

I saw a Liberterian protest against Obama war policy on campus the other day... and I was sympathetic.

(And, you have, fine sir, been tagged with The Deadly Splotchy Story Virus, which you may pass on if you so choose.)