Judging is wrong, right? Wrong. Judging the world, deeming some things more valuable or worthwhile than others, some good and desirable, others bad or undesirable, is the way we grow. Being open minded is beautiful and so is being understanding and accepting of differences, but there seems to be a misconception in which democracy is a great equalizer meaning all levels of knowledge and ignorance are put in the same basket. It doesn’t matter if you have the right to say whatever you want regarding any subject you want and it doesn’t mean you should, you’re qualified or that what you’re saying is useful and helpful. You already know the funny titbit on how if you open your mind to much your brain will fall out. No matter the physiological nonsensicality of this tongue in cheek poke to the too open-minded, some judgement is useful and most necessary. If there is none you’re naïve and opened to be taken advantage of, and rightfully so.
But we’re all human, tossed into this beautiful and horrifying experience of being alive and we have so many of our own daemons, battles, traumas and misconception, prejudice and pain that muddy the waters of clarity so it’s sometimes hard to consider ourselves a very keen observant and fair judge of things. So it should be. Everybody can make a mistake, every judgement we make could be wrong due to our emotional or mental bias, state or lack of information. So what is an ideal judge and how can we ourselves be judged ideally and productively, so that instead of resentment about being judged or challenged at all we use the new insight to develop and grow? How can we be judged productively? Heroes. Heroes real and imaginary, heroes of culture, literature, art, science, humanities… Imaginary personas harbouring the best traits of human, or real life examples of who we could be if we just stopped avoiding the pain of change and responsibility.
The fact that we’ve disposed with a lot of the mythical stories of the past, which provided us with accounts of ideal persons/personalities, and the subsequent gap left by the yearning self-regulating part inside that wants and needs a beacon guiding it to “better”, “perfect” or “transcendent” may be party of the reason for the revival of mythological heroes and a whole new universe of superhero literature, movies and shows. We gulp it up. Because we need the ideal to judge us, or to be more exact to judge ourselves by comparing with it. Chances you’ll wake up tomorrow with x-ray vision, bat cave or the ability to conjure up storms at will is non-existent but powers are not what we really like in the superhero themes. Powers are a cool bonus. What we actually yearn for is to see the journeys of overcoming difficulty in order to be better and grow. The superhero stories have a structure of a myth and, as in any destination, a hero’s journey is the most important part of arriving where he/she was headed.
Ideals and heroes judge us and we need it. It can be a statue of a perfect male or female body that silently judges your fondness of fried food, it can be an athlete or a yogi treating their body as a shrine while you’re putting out your 10th cigarette of the day, it can be a historical figure dying for what was right, true, and difficult while you’re struggling to deal with menial life stuff such as saying something in a tense relationship, feeling shame and resentment for keeping quiet… We need ideals and heroes, they help us reassess and straighten out the path when it gets all squiggly and tangled, as life will tend to do. The ideal and a hero judge from afar, from an unreachable place where we can’t get angry at them for showing us our faults. When you see heroism in something or someone don’t destroy it with cynicism in order to cut it down to size to eye level. We need things to look up to in order to get up from our own personal mud. Ideals and heroes rarely wear capes of the screen or comic book pages. That’s just an obviousness of artistic freedom. In real life they are far more nuanced and far more powerful.