Who are your heroes?
Who are those who inspire you to work harder? do better? become more?
While I recognized that heroes obviously aren't perfect, I look for those who are multi-dimensional heroes – not just those who can demonstrate brilliance in one instance or in one spotlight.
David Brooks writes about one in his column from last week, "The Virtue of Radical Honesty." Steven Pinker, despite the common stereotype of a psychology professor, refuses to be pessimistic and argues against the common behavior that "in order to show how aware of social injustice you are, you have to go around in a perpetual state of indignation, negativity and righteous rage."
Brooks continues to reflect on Pinker, writing:
"The big problem with his rationalistic worldview is that while he charts the way individuals have benefited over the centuries, he spends barely any time on the quality of the relationships between individuals.
That is to say, Pinker doesn’t spend much time on the decline of social trust, the breakdown of family life, the polarization of national life, the spread of tribal mentalities, the rise of narcissism, the decline of social capital, the rising alienation from institutions or the decline of citizenship and neighborliness. It’s simply impossible to tell any good-news story when looking at the data from these moral, social and emotional spheres.
Pinker is a paragon of exactly the kind of intellectual honesty and courage we need to restore conversation and community, and the students are right to revere him.
But today’s situation reminds us of the weakness of the sort of Cartesian rationalism Pinker champions and represents. Conscious reason can get you only so far when tribal emotions have been aroused, when existential fears rain down, when narcissistic impulses have been given free rein, when spiritual longings have nowhere healthy to go, when social trust has been devastated, when all the unconscious networks that make up 99 percent of our thinking are aflame and disordered."
Regardless of your thoughts on Pinker specifically, I think everyone should have living heroes, not just dead ones. Everyone should be on the lookout for those who inspire you and push you to become something better. I'll spend some time on here over the next few weeks writing about who mine are – I'm curious though whose yours are.