Thursday, October 9, 2014
31 Days of Courage: When Celebrity is Mistaken for Courage
I am truly sorry for the late Michael Jackson. It appears he had a tough upbringing by a severe father. He clearly could not cope with the rigors of celebrity. He was confused about who he was. In the end, his extreme efforts to numb his pain wound up killing him. It’s a tragic story, especially for those who really loved the true Michael. And I’m not talking about the hordes of fans. I mean his family. I wish Michael Jackson could have found his way to some hope.
But Michael Jackson was not a hero. At least not the way the media and his adoring fans proclaim. He may have been brave in some unseen places we’ll never know. But he has been assigned a public status that is undeserved. Talented, yes. Generous, perhaps. But courageous…certainly not for the things the public credits to him.
Let’s not confuse celebrity and courage. Some truly courageous people become famous, but most famous people in today’s culture are considered brave for no apparent reason other than that they are famous.
Oprah may be a courageous woman, but not because she donates cars to people and makes a public display of it on her TV show. Courage is generally something that makes us less popular, not more. It usually involves swimming against a cultural tide, not with it. Celebrity in some ways makes courage less likely.
But if Oprah overcomes some difficult personal area of stubborn sin, where no one sees, and it costs her in some way…now that starts to fit with the definition of courage.
Lance Armstrong was considered a hero for his perseverance in the face of “false” accusation. He rode his bike so very fast, but did that make him a hero? A great athlete, perhaps…but did it make him brave? In the end, perhaps the folks who he falsely accused were the truly courageous people. They stood up, told the truth and were vilified for daring to contradict a celebrity.
In no way am I trying to say that being famous disqualifies a person in the courage department. The point I’m making is that celebrity must not be confused with gallantry. Most often, those practicing true courage are trembling in their boots. There are internal wars going on that no one sees.
Perhaps reaching out to difficult family member who has hurt us requires greater strength of character than standing up at the Oscars with a statue in hand platforming our dearest cause to folks who already agree with us.
So no offense meant here to your favorite celebrity. Only the strong conviction that fame does not equal stoutheartedness.
When the last trumpet sounds, there will only be One celebrity left standing anyway. And let’s not forget He was spit on, mocked, tortured and falsely accused to death. For the sake of our salvation. To give hope to folks like Michael Jackson, Oprah and Lance Armstrong. And you. And me.
We are the only trophies He wanted to hold.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,