We all need a hero. Someone to look up to.
Most of the time, it’s our Dad.
When mature enough to know there are shades of grey and our Dad had been far from perfect, we grew confused.
The same happened when our leaders betrayed us.
From coach to banker, from monk to priest, they failed us one by one.
I remember a ranking that had lawyers, politicians and used-car salesmen at the top (of low trust) and physicians, teachers and firemen on the other end (of high trust).
My Dad (and in his younger version, me) was far from perfect.
He carried on simultaneously two families, fathered and nurtured two young kids (me and my half-sister).
But until I have a free weekend, seeing the Pho (noodle soup) place next to a Catholic Church (Bac Ha) that memories flushed back. I understood now that he had struggled with his own moral dilemma. And however short, those times he did spare for me, were quite special (Sunday breakfast, fried donuts and book browsing). Those outings to me were like Proust‘s A la Reserche du Temp Perdu. Time waits for no man.
I saw the list of “Icons we lost in 2011”.
I know the male figures of our time are far from being perfect: if they are not ill (Steve Jobs) then they acted on those self-destructive impulses
(Madoff), or both (Sandusky – and to a certain extent, Paterno).
My Dad breathed his last with us at his death-bed.
I saw him struggle. Indeed I had seen him struggle all his life.
Heroes don’t exist in a vacuum.
In fact, we need heroes in spite of their problems.
Those naive enough to think that this world exists for us need their heads reexamined.
But there will also be Churchill, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
TIME’s person of this year was the Protester.
A few years back, it was YOU (me).
What happened there? The YOU in digital forms stopped being heroes, leaving only a small portion of dissenters (who called themselves 99 percenters) out there in the impersonal public square.
When people feel strongly enough to die for a cause, it’s time our leaders pay attention.
Maybe we have failed one another.
Maybe we are all immature, like ancient popes who insisted that the sun orbit around the Earth.
Male or female, we all fell short of our own expectations.
My Dad certainly did.
I certainly am, and just recently admitted that to myself.
I have learned to think for myself, outside of the box and bubble. For the first time in my life, I understood my nearest male figure.
I am on my way to accepting him for who he truly was, and with redemption, who I have become.
I hope the next generation will also come to that same realization:
that we all fall short. And that we are mature enough to forgive ourselves and others, including our leaders, or those male figures in the news lately.