Let’s take a hard look at the Tiger Woods feeding frenzy. Not just at how appalling it is but that it’s giving us a pretty clear picture of who we are these days and what we hunger for.
Listen. Tiger Woods has been our hero because he’s a super-human golfer – not a super-human man. Sure, his relationship with his father was wonderful and we knew that. But Tiger never asked us to elect him preacher or teacher or role-model for the perfect human being. Just the perfect golfer.
What have we learned to love about him? Simply this: He can dig into his core and find the focus, the will and the skill to do amazing things that the rest of us can’t. He can make a golf ball follow his intentions while the rest of us— well, you know. And thus he became a symbol of our hidden power, of the depth and possibilities we humans are capable of. And we basked in that glory. Look what “we” can do, how high we humans can rise, how powerful and in control we can become!
Then what happens? The rest of Tiger leaks out. The who-else-he-is when he’s not lifting us all to new heights via the golf course. Who knew? And, until now, who cared? But learning about his other human traits, we’re furious. How could he do that to us? How could he fall from the heights we lifted him onto and make us see he’s like the rest of us – sometimes fallible, incompetent, undisciplined, the “us” who often stray off the right path. Result? He’s our mark for attack.
Why are we sooo needy? So anxious to assume inhuman perfection from our steady parade of media–made stars and so quick to destroy them when their imperfect human foibles are revealed? Well, today’s world problems have made life harder and more demanding than most of us can remember. Can it be that, filled with self-doubt and a sense of impotence about fixing our giant problems, even surviving, we keep looking for reassurance— for examples that our species’ basic genetic makeup will carry us through? That we really are capable of superhuman strength, of amazing talents, of heights we can rise to in order to solve our problems and survive? That that’s where the endless hunger for idols and adulation comes from. We’re looking for examples to reassure us that we really all do have the right stuff, when needed. That yes, we can… And all the idols that keep falling from grace scare us into thinking— we’re all only human! Survive? No, we can’t….