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Representative image

We don’t need another hero

We need to embrace hero creation over hero-worship for genuine progress and personal development

The present world of humans harbours a huge chunk of hero-worshippers. Hero-worshipping seems to be ingrained in many of the modern human societies. There are reasons for it and very plausible ones. We find a particular society to be a polytheistic society, where many gods and goddesses are worshipped. Each god or goddess has its own band of followers who are very emotionally bonded to their deity. They deeply admire all qualities and attributes of their deities who are their objects of worship. Their deities are their heroes who seemingly inspire them and galvanise them for their positive mundane actions.

But in their interactions with fellow humans too, many of the above members of such a society display a discernible trait of hero-worshipping—in the context of distinctive men and women who are their role models, whom they adore and would like to emulate. Whether heroes are film stars, political leaders, sports stars or other persons with outstanding achievements to their name, hero-worshippers display passionate adulation and imitation of their perceived heroes. Hero-worshippers are not limited to one specific global society. They can be seen across the spectrum of many different global societies. The reference to a particular society was in the context of presenting the defining characteristics of such persons. Hero-worshipping is a human attribute that shows that a person is overawed by the personality cult. He sees in his hero the fulfilment of his own dormant desires and aspirations. He feels, rightly or wrongly, that in emulating his hero or role model lies his fulfilment and salvation.

A hero becomes a demigod for him. His hero’s positive attributes become his guiding and inspiring principles and he becomes blind to the human hero’s negative traits and weaknesses. This kind of behaviour is most starkly visible in the case of people’s matinee idols—famous cinema stars with big fan-following. Political leaders—presidents and prime ministers—too have tremendous fan-following and become cult figures, although most politicians have human weaknesses as much as in average individuals. Outstanding sportspersons also become cult figures.

Examples in the Indian context are legion. The die-hard fans of political personalities also show the characteristics indicated above. They can see only their leaders’ positive traits which too appear to them hugely magnified but they are unable to see the negative traits. Hero-worshipping is an outright negative attribute or behaviour in all ordinary humans. The instinct of hero worship springs from an internal vacuum or personality deficit of those persons. They often suffer from what is known as an inferiority complex. They see in their perceived heroes filling their own character and personality gaps. The result is that they are distanced from reality and live in a dream world of their own. The instinct of hero-worshipping is delusional. It thus becomes the biggest stumbling block in the progress of persons indulging in it.

Every human being ushered in this world is a unique individual. He has his own special attributes and is endowed with some unique qualities. He would do well to work on them and exploit them for his advancement and growth. He must cultivate and nurture his own personality. He can admire others for their special qualities or achievements but he should try to learn from them rather than hero-worship them. Hero-worshipping will dilute his own personality and impede his growth. In fundamental spiritual discourse, the term worship is reserved for only one unique entity—the creator and controller of the worlds and the universe. He is above humans—supernatural and divine. He has a relational setting with each human individual created by him. It is in the context of this setting that the term worship is meaningful. In other words, worship is to be reserved only for the one and the only Almighty creator, who is the source of all beneficence and boons. Worship of all lesser entities, including humans, is not logical or meaningful.

Passionate behaviour does not go well with human progress. Perseverance is very important. Plain passion often lands a person in a cloud of illusion. Rational thinking and perseverance drive the progress of humans. Let us produce more heroes in our society rather than more hero-worshippers.

Atul Sehgal is the author of Guide to Inner Wellness and can be contacted at atul4956@gmail.com

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The New Indian Express
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