Desiring to emulate the stars may skew our personal moral compass and truth
The music stopped as the lights focused on stage. The packed hockey arena erupted on cue and a tall attractive white-male strutted out to the illuminated podium with an unoriginal smile. It was Nov. 5. Under the gaze of an arena full of committed admirers, Mitt Romney prepared to give his last speech before Election Day. And for a few seconds, as he was waving to the audience with a sort of pensive charm, I wanted to be just like him.
That’s weird for two reasons. One, I’m a liberal. And two, I openly—almost brashly—think that any politician, or any person for that matter, who gets applause from over 5,000 people probably doesn’t deserve it. They’re probably just an OK person; nothing spectacular. Why do I think this? Because when it comes to politicians, the feeling of star-struck-ness is always confused with the feeling of admiration.
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We applaud because they’re famous and have authority, not because they‘re extraordinary leaders. That audience wasn’t applauding Mitt Romney. That’s obvious. Even Mitt would acknowledge that. They were applauding a false idol named Mitt Romney that only exists in their minds.
Even though I was cognizant of this fact, for that moment I envied him. I wanted to be him, I wanted to be the recipient of all that blatantly misplaced enthusiasm from thousands of overly emotional, unnecessarily scared (thanks Fox News) conservatives.
Me! An angst-ridden 21 year old with a frenetic skepticism for everything. For a few seconds, I was ready to spend my whole life manipulating our capitalist system just to get some random people to respect the heck out of me.
It sounded like a good idea. And I could probably do it! I’m smart… and I’m a pretty good public speaker… and I know a bit about politics.
Fortunately, after a few seconds I stopped being so cynical and snapped back to reality.
My point is… I think we all have moments like this; where we suppress our moral compass and let obviously false, probably exaggerated dreams replace reality. And, most importantly, I think we all—including myself—aren’t as conscious of these moments, or the implications of these moments, as we should be; we don’t always snap back to reality.
Everyone has idols, real or fictional, that help them craft reality. These idols change frequently but they will always be there.
I’m not just talking about wanting to be Mitt Romney for a brief moment because everyone is applauding him. It’s more than that. It’s wanting to be like Chris Christie because you see him as a good leader. It’s wanting to be like the drug dealer from down the street because people respect him. It’s wanting to be like your favorite teacher from high school, because you see them as wise.
We all see things in other people that we want to replicate.
The problem, is that we all get carried away with this way too often. We manipulate and contort ourselves to become our idols—or who we think might be idols.
We see, for at least a moment, some powerful truth in other people. We latch to this truth and try to make it our own. But it is not our own. And it never will be. It’s someone else’s.
The worst part: someone else may see truth in your emulated truth, and make a third generation truth stretching the collective unconscious farther and farther away from the simplicity of reality.
This problem, trying to ensconce ourselves into a someone else’s cloned truth, is one of the biggest and probably most disregarded reasons people have trouble living life correctly; living in the moment.
We see David Beckham on an underwear ad in Times Square, and we want to be like him. We see Bill Clinton give an elegant speech about our country’s future, and we want to be like him. We see Taylor Swift sing about heartbreak with candid simplicity and we want to be like her. For me, I see F. Scott Fitzgerald scribbling “The Great Gatsby” in a dimly lit, wind-rattled house and I want to be like him.
Sure, these are probably great people. But they are not us and we are not them. They’re truth, they’re words, are taken from their soul. And so should ours.
Dylan Morrill can be contacted at