this week’s all-star festivities has caused me to think a little bit about childhood heroes. my dad, growing up on a small farm in northwest missouri, cheered for and followed the new york and then the san francisco giants. his hero as a child was willie mays.
fast forward several decades and willie mays‘ godson becomes my childhood hero, barry bonds. playing in the same park (candlestick) was my other hero, joe montana. also making the list as heroes were george brett, carl lewis, michael sweet, and james bond.
why did all of these athletes, one lead singer of a hair-band, and a fictitious womanizing secret agent become heroes to me? did they exhibit exceptional moral character? did they affect some great change in me for the better? i never became an athlete, i did run around the house with a gun pretending to be bond but never adopted his ethical standards, and i swear i never wore yellow and black leather pants. what purpose did they serve in my life?
maybe in all of us their is a voice that says that we are a part of something big. heroes can provide a connection with something bigger than our own life.
also i think that as part of our life process (at least mine) we are constantly trying to establish an individual identity for ourselves. it is often difficult to see our own identity, so we begin to identify with people who have the traits and characteristics that we would like to have as our identity. for instance bonds and montana helped to establish my individuation in my family that are all from kansas city. but at the same time george brett helped root myself in my family tradition. the one athletic talent i had as a child was speed. carl lewis was more than speed, he was the fastest. in a culture that praises athletic talent above all others, i needed something that would make me important. james bond allowed me to enter a completely different world, but at the same time establish a relationship with my dad while watching the films together. and for michael sweet and stryper, well . . . .