We’ve all seen it.
It’s that moment in any Batman recreation (how many are there now?), where Bruce Wayne takes off his suit and we discover he’s bruised, broken, and sore all over. He’s our hero right? The person who just went out there to save us all and be our leader in the fight against injustice…
but as it turns out, he’s just a guy.
I’ll never forget when I was 10, I watched a Behind the Scenes special on the The Backstreet Boys… and they cursed! Up a storm, too. OK no Backstreet Boy is my hero or anything (although I did see them three times in concert – not ashamed), but that was my first transitional moment from glassy-eyed kid who idealized the world around her to jaded realist who started seeing flaws in everything.
Of course there are examples far less trivial than 90’s pop-stars showing their true colors.
Family members dealing with addiction.
Pastors cheating on their spouses.
Then there are the everyday ways we all show our imperfections and realize we can probably do better. However, when you’re in the spotlight, as many of us are now that social media blasts everything we do, you’re so much more likely to screw up “in public”.
So what happens when we do? Well, some people get funny memes made out of them. Like this girl:
Some people screw up so much that other people write blogs about them. (oOOo a blog within a blog!)
Perhaps those who publically ridicule others will justify any negative criticisms with, “well, you put yourself out there, so you deserve for my judgement of you to also be publicized.” I think we can all agree that this can be “fair game”, but maybe the question is not can you do it, it’s should you do it or how should you do it?
I guess in order to answer that question, you have to ask another: what is the outcome you’d like?
If you’d like public recognition for being a hilarious critical badass just to vent your own frustrations and say “those who get offended can peel the banana”, then go for it.
Target those heroes who fell short and blog away.
If you’d like to reach a hero who might not otherwise talk to you, maybe due to their celebrity status and you’re using tactful written reflections as a creative outlet, then go for it.
Is your writing more of a “for the good of all heroes” graceful statement?
Again, blog away.
However, if your purpose is to build up those who fell short in order to improve their actions the next time they’re faced with a challenge, perhaps publically ripping them a new one is not quite the way to go.
My main message to students is this: you’re going to establish heroes in the pro-life movement. Please don’t become too cynical if one of them turns out to be not as they seem. Continuing down a path of negativity, especially where everyone else can see, in response to whatever flaw they may have exposed only further tarnishes our work as a whole.
There have been lots of great people in the fight against injustice who let us down, including some pro-life heroes of mine, because they’re just people. In the pro-life community, we spend a great deal of our time fighting to show others the science and philosophy of exactly that principle, yet we’re the ones who forget: we’re all human.
As a movement, all fighting for an end to the greatest injustice of our generation, we can’t be ungracefully tearing each other down publically when we disagree or when someone messes up. The enemy loves that.
For me, it’s not just the published or full-time pro-life leaders who are heroes. Anyone who sees outside of themselves and works towards the greater good of ending abortion in our lifetime is a hero.
And it would take a lot for you to let me down, but even if you did, I want you to know that we need you. If you totally dropped the ball on something and you’re beating yourself up about it, please know that you’re still a valuable part of ending abortion in our lifetime.
I’ve seen too many great pro-life student leaders get burnt out or run away from controversy because they feel like everyone around them is being negative or disparaging them. It can be difficult to tune out those who want to capitalize on your failures just to make their own points, but you also have an amazing Regional Coordinator (toot toot) who will lift you up when you’re down. Who will support you every step of the way, no matter what controversy you’re up against, and train you in your leadership – not strike you down.
Finally, I want to apologize. I’m not claiming to be your all-time pro-life hero, but as a leader in pro-life work, I’ve met a lot of students who look up to me. But I’m sure I’ll mess up, perhaps even by the end of the day. I’ve already spilled coffee on one of my reports. (Sorry, Missy) I’m not perfect. So, for whatever it was or ever may be: I’m sorry.
Because heroes who can’t see their own weaknesses, are not heroes at all.