People need gods and heroes. Worshipping something or somebody is a psychological need that has plagued mankind ever since the beginning of its history. While God is a projection of all the goodness that man is capable of imagining, heroes become the earthly manifestation of the projected perfection.
We want our heroes to be as perfect as possible. That’s why we find it difficult to accept Shah Ruk Khan’s habit of smoking. But we can soon be happy, perhaps. It seems Mr Khan has decided to give up his smoking habit. As soon as he expressed his desire, an NGO called HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth) sent a set of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) patches to the actor [The Hindu, 13 Jun. 2011].
Our heroes should not smoke. They are the role models for the society. Can they drink? There are Bollywood heroes who endorse alcoholic drinks. I wonder why there was never any loud criticism of that. Maybe, our heroes can endorse anything that brings them more wealth. Wealth is a virtue in our worldview.
That’s why our heroes can also swindle and hoodwink people. Many of the contemporary heroes are crooks, frauds and swindlers, who have stashed away millions of dollars in clandestine accounts abroad. Many of our heroes are people who wear saffron robes and preach values and ethics but possess fabulous assets whose sources are suspect. There are heroes who are involved in a number of scams and scandals. There are heroes who encroach upon government land and appropriate it. There are heroes who acquire mines, oil reserves or other resources and later alter their commitments to the nation…
I was told by a friend about an industrialist who also runs many schools. Schools are a good means for converting black money into white, I came to know through this friend. The industrialist has very strict moral codes for the teachers in his schools. Even a small violation of those codes will invite severe punishments. Termination from service is the most common punishment. If the teacher goes to the court of justice he will be ‘handled’ by the thugs kept by the industrialist. Teachers are the role models for students. They should be perfect.
What about the administrators being role models for teachers?
I mentioned the example of the industrialist as an analogy for our demand on Shah Ruk Khan. Just like the industrialist, we impose certain moral codes on our perceived role models. We expect them to live up to the standards we prescribe for them.
But why don’t we insist on certain really moral and ethical qualities rather than focus on peccadilloes like smoking or drinking. Why don’t we demand honesty, compassion, and such qualities from the so-called role models?