The Heroes In Our Lives

It’s no great stretch to say that people – kids and adults alike – make heroes out of the wrong kinds of people. We idolise celebrities for their movies, their music, sometimes for absolutely NOTHING (see Kardashians). At least musos and actors actually put in some hard work, unlike the Lindsay Lohans, Paris Hiltons, Kim Kardashians of the world. I apologise, those are the only examples I have as I stopped paying attention to people who are famous for nothing about 5 years ago.

Growing up, as an athlete, I always idolised sports people. Greg Norman was one of my first admirations. Steffi Graff another. Tiger Woods, while I didn’t necessarily “like” him I understood the challenges he had overcome, the talent, the drive, the hard work he had put in to achieve the unthinkable. While I didn’t understand cycling as a sport, I could understand and respect the achievements of Lance Armstrong. What a story he had – cancer survivor to seven time Tour de France champion.

When the news broke of Tiger’s multiple affairs I wasn’t shocked. It wasn’t the first time someone (ok, a man) of such fame and fortune had been unfaithful to his wife. Maybe the number of women that came forward as having been a Tigress was slightly shocking, but the whole thing wasn’t that much of a surprise. I may not have been surprised, but I was disappointed. I expected more from him. But then, Tiger had let me down before. To cut a long story short, I had 20 junior golfers in Hawaii. Not a sole around, except for us, and Tiger was being escorted past in a golf cart. He didn’t even have the decency to wave to the kids shouting for his attention. He didn’t have to stop, chat, sign autographs, just wave. But he ignored them, as if they weren’t even there. That spoke volumes about his character, to me. His actions with these multiple women, outside of his marriage, spoke more volumes.

Yesterday, I read the headline that Lance Armstrong had admitted to Oprah that he had used performance enhancing drugs. It was like someone punched me in the stomach. Another athlete, someone I admired, thought a great role model (as did most of the world – Livestrong!) had failed us again. Someone that kids looked up to, who had been an ambassador for such an important issue, had been ripped down off his pedestal.  And honestly, I felt stupid. For years, while accusations flew, I believed him when he said he did NOT take performance enhancing drugs. I thought others were jealous, spiteful, trying to tarnish a solid, honest, amazing career. Now that belief is shattered. And one of the worst parts about it is that he became the face of surviving cancer, and played on our emotions over this disease that touches everyone in some shape or form, to portray some kind of hero that he never truly was.

If our kids are to learn from the likes of Woods and Armstrong, they will grow up believing that we can and must do anything to get to the top, and once there, we can do whatever the hell we want. I hope that’s not the lesson kids today learn from these guys.

I want Nick to have true idols. Idols who don’t do what they do for the recognition, or for the money. Idols who look danger in the face every day, and do it to protect others. Soldiers, firemen, policemen. Idols who make sacrifices to better the lives of others. Doctors, nurses, teachers. I want him to understand that a true hero is someone who makes a difference to others without seeking recognition for it.

If he is to idolise sports stars, I hope it’s the likes of Roger Federer (and God Forbid he EVER has a scandal come out, my soul will be completely crushed) or even Lleyton Hewitt or Steve Yzerman or his namesake Nicklas Lidstrom. (Apologies again, I’m a huge tennis and NHL fan, so am drawing blanks on other sporting role models.)

Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look.

RONALD REAGAN, First Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1981

Society certainly doesn’t know where to look for heroes. We think we have to look to TV, movies, radio, the footy field, the tennis court, the golf course, when all we have to do is look to our local schools, police stations, fire departments, hospitals/ambos. They may not make the money athletes and actors do, they may not have the fame of a musician or reality TV star, but they have the hearts and the courage. That is what I want my son to look up to. That is what I want my son to respect.

Who do you idolise? How do you teach your kids about idols? 

Flogging my Blog with Grace and Flog Yo’ Blog Friday!


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34 thoughts on “The Heroes In Our Lives

  1. Yeah, we’re running short of true role models in our world.
    I encourage my thirteen year old daughter towards Taylor Swift because I feel she is positive, focused, works hard, strong, independent and keeps herself “clean”. Let’s hope she stays scandal free.
    I have to admit I have a strange fixation of the Kardashian clan. Not the people themselves, but the concept. I just finished reading “Kris Jenner and all things Kardashian” because I’m really intrigued with how she created a brand from a bunch of people without the traditional talents we usually require to make them celebs (acting, sport, music). It’s fascinating. Funnily enough Kris Jenner may actually be a role model of sorts when it comes to global marketing … and seizing opportunity. It’s a very interesting case study. Anyway, that’s a post for another day.
    I’ve always valued Lance Armstrong’s work in the area of cancer.
    Never been much into bike riding (nor people wearing lycra) though. Luckily for me my kids wouldn’t even know who he is. The TV has been off in our house so I haven’t even seen his interview yet. Must track it down …
    Happy Friday!
    Cheers
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

    • I can see the fascination with Kris Jenner and making a brand out of a bunch of regular people. She certainly has built an empire. I guess if there is a silver lining in the Armstrong thing, it is the money he raised for cancer. I haven’t watched the interview and don’t really want to! Thanks for your thoughts Leanne!

  2. Such a true post !!! I too was totally devastated when I read of him admitting to drugs after the years of denial – I don’t get how he can go for so long say no no no only to change his tune now and say yes I did !
    I felt very similar when I heard that Hansie Cronje (SA cricket captain and really good player) had been caught throwing games – of all the people in SA cricket he was seen as an honourable man who thousands and thousands of people looked up to – kids and adults alike. A called me to tell me he had heard it on the news and I said “Rubbish – no way would he ever fix a game” – but it was true and I was sad !
    I totally agree on who the real heroes are – soldiers, policeman, ambos, nurses, doctors – people who really do make a positive difference to so many people.
    Have a great day !
    Me

    • It is really hard to accept when people we think we know turn out to be not the people we thought they were! To deny for so long…tells me he has no conscious. If the others hadn’t spoken out, he’d have continued living this lie the rest of his life. No morals there.

  3. It’s devastating to have people you look up to let you down. I don’t idolise any celebrities, but I have friends whom I’ve looked up to just betray that trust or other people I love. It hurts but still, it is their lives and ultimately, I believe that judgement will not, should not come from me.

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    • oh it’s even harder when it’s people we actually know and love in real life! we should probably come to expect it from celebrities, but gosh, friends and loved ones, that hurts heaps more. x

  4. I am not much of a sports fan and while the Lance Armstrong story is a sad one, I can’t say with any passion that I am shocked by his actions
    Just a thought (and it really is just a thought), why don’t we slowly teach our children to have different heros and idols – their grandparents? parents? every day humans who reach extraordinary things in the face of no recognition or fame?
    great post, quite thought provoking xx

    • This whole thing has left me wondering how I’d explain these actions to my son if he was old enough to understand what was going on. I think Lance has become a great example of the kind of person NOT to be. That’s such a shame. I definitely want Nick to look up to every day people, not celebrities or people like Armstrong.

  5. I idolise my Grandma, even after almost 12 years since she died. To me she embodied what a true hero is. She spent her entire life helping others, through her work with the church, her work running a welfare centre, and her work helping homeless people and those with drug & alcohol addictions. She gave everything she had and more, spent her days and often her nights helping people who had nothing, helping those who no-one else in society wanted to help, and that to me is a true hero. I can only hope that my daughter will have such an example in her life and that she will see the true hero’s in this world.

  6. Awesome post. Personally I am not shocked about Lance “coming clean” I could never understand how so many different people could accuse him of it without there being a hint of truth in there somewhere. I hope that my girls are able to see the real heroes in the world as well. Those who help others and make the world better purely because they can and it is the right thing to do.

    • There are a lot of people not shocked. I guess I was just blind, or wanted to believe there could even be such a person who could overcome such adversity to be truly great. Just a fairytale, apparently! We do get sucked into those fairytales, don’t we!?

  7. Sorry but I had no doubt at all that Lance was guilty. Sad really for so many people, especially those people he robbed of the chance to win.
    I think kids need great role models and idols, they can help their ambitions. To say I idolise any one person is too strong of a statement, I respect and admire a lot of everyday people, those who overcome adversity to accomplish great things, or even overcome illness to survive. xx

    • I think part of what many people are upset about is being made to look a fool for believing him all this time. It’s a shame he’s gone from being a hero to being the exact kind of person you wouldn’t want to be, or what your kids to be. It makes me wonder if his ex wife, or Sheryl Crowe knew what was going on and that’s why they left? From all accounts he was and is an egotistical sociopath!

  8. I think you hit the mark with looking locally, at everyday people who are inspirational, real and heroic. People who perform acts of bravery, give selflessly or simply provide random acts of kindness just because they are willing and able. They are the real heros.

    • Yes. But as others have pointed out, they could be just as corrupt as Lance and we’d never know! Can’t win! But I do think there will be plenty of examples for my son as he grows up. Hopefully his father and I will be 2 of them!

  9. All those years ago when it first started to dawn on me that Lance wasn’t quite the person I thought he was, that’s when it also occurred to me for the first time that there was no point idolising ANYONE … because no one is perfect. As soon as we put someone up on a pedestal, we risk having a moment where they don’t live up to the ideal we have created … and then, cue devastation.

    So I’d even be hesitant to idolise ordinary people (like say parents, or doctors, or fire fighters) … because they’re all flawed just like us!

    I don’t know what I am going to do when my child is old enough to have idols!!

    • I loved your blog post about it Kelly. I haven’t read any of his books and never really knew much about him. From everything I’m hearing now, that makes me kind of glad! I guess we just have to play it by ear, as far as our kids having idols, and hope that we can steer them in the right direction when the time comes.

  10. I was just saying to boatman this morning how the real heroes who deserve our admiration, are these fire fighters battling 44 degree heat, plus fire for days on end. They are the real idols our kids should have.

    On another note, when driving through Katherine on our trip, they had a sign proudly proclaiming ‘birth place of lance Armstrong.’ I wonder if they will take it down now….

  11. Completely agree, I wasn’t into cycling as a sport but really respected him for his achievements. For me, it wasn’t just that he had denied drug use previously which we now know to be completely false, but that he was so arrogant in his dismissal of the then accusations and attempted to destroy the careers of the journalists who first outed him many moons ago all the while knowing he was a liar and a cheat. And choosing Oprah to come clean about it all – well thats the measure of the man, choosing an ‘entertainment’ program rather than telling the truth to the sports journalists who would have told it like it is, no schmaltz, no tears and hand wringing just the cold hard truth.
    There are so many real hereos out there, just normal everyday people who risk their lives every single day. They deserve our respect and admiration. The Tigers and Lances of this world – just disappointing.

    • Actually, it was Oprah who approached him months ago and he told her he wasn’t ready to talk. Then just last week he said he was.
      I personally don’t think if he spoke to a sports journalist, he would’ve been as open as what he was. They’re too close to home.
      Besides, he’ll eventually have to face the USADA, anyway. Talking to Oprah will be of little impact compared to what he’s still up for.

      • I think he’d have been approached by a lot of people, and his PR advisors would have chosen Oprah b/c she’s loved all over the world and would be the best shot at being seen in a not-so-negative light.

  12. You are so right; true heroes exist and they are living among us. They are every day people who sacrifice some of their own comfort to help the others. It is important to teach children to open their eyes and see that a true hero can even be someone they know.

  13. Oh, I love what you have to say here, Aroha! LOVE!
    While we’re so very angry at Armstrong for what he did and what he’s finally admitted to, I think society does need to look at itself for the way it puts celebrities on pedestals. No matter what world records they break or how well known of a philanthropist they are. They are only human.
    And this is the thing. While we give Armstrong a hard time and feel the need to judge him, let’s not forget he is just human and is prone to making mistakes. We all are.

    • Yes, we do all make mistakes. But most of us have a conscious. I can’t help but wonder, had no one ever spoken out about him, would we have ever known? He seemed content to live this lie for the rest of his life. To play the hero we now know that he wasn’t. I also wonder if he ever gave a thought to his kids, to his family, and how something like this might affect them? I am not angry any more, but I am not as forgiving or dismissive as some people have been either. I think more than anything I am really disappointed!

  14. So true that we put our athletes on pedestals but it’s such a big part of our culture here in Australia. I don’t think we’ll stop doing it…and no doubt, we will be crushed again in future. But you’re right, we should talk more about everyday heroes so that our children have strong role models to look up to.
    Just had another thought – some of these everyday heroes might have less than exemplary private lives too – we would just never know about them.

    • I guess we all have the potential to royally stuff up at some point. And yep, def an Aussie culture to put sports stars on pedestals and idolize them. And that’s the risk we take – that they turn out to be liars and cheaters.

  15. I can’t say that I idolise Roger Federer but I was only tweeting last night about how I think he is the last of the true gentlemen in sport. So real and so humble. As you have said, God forbid a scandal. As far as idols go, I think I will let my kids decide who they look up to. It goes without saying that I will steer them away from the Kimyes of this world but I am looking forward to seeing their decisions and reasoning. I really enjoyed your post.

    • I am interested to see who my son will look up to, also! I hope there will be lots of great examples for him. I love Roger the way cyclists would have loved Lance. And Roger is without a doubt the best tennis player of all time, I think. If it came out that he had lied or cheated his way to being who he is, I would be devastated! We want to believe that there are these phenomenons who come along once in a while, and inspire, achieve, give back…it’s hard to have that taken away!

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