Are we expecting too much from our heroes? As communities look to remove statues and strip names from buildings, perhaps we need to take a step back and really use these experiences as learning experiences. As I write for Medium this week, as part of my Ashoka Foundation Changemaker Education work:
If we truly want to teach empathy, we need to embrace flawed heroes. We need our kids to know that many of our Founding Fathers were both great leaders and slave owners. We need them to know that two of the greatest ballplayers to ever lace up their cleats — Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose — will never be in the Hall of Fame because they broke the rules of the game. They need to know that modern-day presidents can be great world leaders, yet have personal moral deficiencies.
Before we call for another statue to be removed or holiday to be renamed or history to be rewritten, we must remember that mankind was built on a history of sin, fallibility, and missteps. Instead of wiping it from the history annals, perhaps we should use it as a teaching experience, an opportunity to show our children that even the most imperfect of people can do great things. After all, isn’t that the role of a true hero, to inspire us and instill a belief that we, too, can accomplish the impossible?