Daily Archives: February 15, 2013

The Jolly Librarian Ponders Heroes

Like most folks, I watched in wonder as Oscar Pistorius competed in the Summer Olympics. I was in awe of his life story and his perseverance. And like most people, I am now in shock that he has been charged with murder. 

Of course, as Bruce Arthur points out, I shouldn’t be. Or I shouldn’t be any more shocked than when I read about a murder committed by a total stranger. Because Oscar Pistorius is a stranger to me. I don’t know him. In fact, as Arthur notes, I know only one thing about Pistorius: he was good at his job (running). The swelling music of the “in-depth” stories that punctuated the various Olympics events might have given me a different impression. But it was a false impression. 

This is not to take away from his achievements. But those achievements alone do not make him a hero or even a good person. Those labels can’t be given from fast times or points scored. As Buzz Bissinger has argued eloquently in the past weeks, we must stop conflating the two.

An excellent athlete, even one who has overcome adversity, is not necessarily a hero.