Seems like everywhere you look our heroes are falling faster than Icarus on his pyrotechnic plunge.
Donald Trump is a racist. Bill Clinton is a perjurer. Oscar Pistorius is a murderer. Lindsay Lohan is an addict. Bill Cosby is most likely a rapist. I could go on and on with my list of tarnished celebrities but the evidence is clear – the spotlight of fame either exacerbates or exposes the sins of the very people we hoist up on a pedestal.
Why is it that so many of those we revere as heroes disappoint us so? Is it because people who are driven to seek fame and fortune are just as ambitious in their dark urges? Does a lifetime of endless accolades and attaboys create an expectation of greatness that diminishes real-world inhibitions and filters? Do unlimited resources of time and money provide the means for bad behavior (idle hands being the devil’s workshop and all that)?
Or is it our fault? Could it be that our idol worship creates heroes of such exalted position that there’s no way they could ever live up to our expectations? Do we long to see the mighty, the wealthy, the famous, the ones who’ve accomplished what we can only dream of dragged back down to earth alongside the rest of us or even lower – penniless, beaten, humiliated, and defeated?
A Bronx Tale is a movie fable about Cologero, a neighborhood kid nicknamed “C.” In it Cologero falls under the spell of Sonny, the local tough guy played by Chazz Palminteri, who teaches the kid how to get girls, money, and revenge.
But it’s Lorenzo, Cologero’s bus driver father, an everyman played by Robert DeNiro, who teaches C what life is really about:
Cologero: “Sonny was right. The workingman is a sucker.”
Lorenzo: “Pulling a trigger doesn’t take strength. Get up every day and work for a living. Let’s see him try that. We’ll see who’s really tough. The workingman is tough. Your father’s the tough guy.”
Cologero: “Everybody loves him, just like everybody loves you on the bus.”
Lorenzo: “No, it’s not the same. People don’t love him. They fear him. There’s a difference.”
Cologero: “I’m sorry. I don’t understand, Dad.”
Lorenzo: “You will, C. You will when you get older.”
What Lorenzo learned from a lifetime of pulling on a uniform, driving a bus, eating from a lunch pail, and bringing his hard-earned pay home for his family is that that’s where true heroism lies.
Some of us strive and make it bigger than big.
Some of us strive and make it big.
Some of us strive and make it.
Some of us strive.
But just like the bear that went over the mountain and saw another mountain, the best and worst part about success is that there’s never an ultimate end – there’s always another mountain to scale, another dollar to make, another goal to reach.
Imagine if you were talking to Bill Gates and he was complaining about something he couldn’t buy – a Renoir hanging in the Louvre, maybe, or a small European country.
“Don’t let it bother you, pal,” you might try to console him. “There’s always someone ri… Oh wait, no there’s not, never mind.”
And what could Gates do anyway? Go complain to the Sultan of Brunei?
As James Taylor sang, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it. Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill. But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.”
Because ultimately the lovely ride—and the people we ride it with—is all we have. And YOU are the real hero.