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The Scarlet & Black

Of idols and romance

I came out of Biden’s event on September 18th with such a fire in me. I had just met, embraced, and taken a picture with the Vice President of the United States of America. I felt refreshed and for some reason, weirdly elated. As I made my way across Mac Field, those feelings were slowly replaced by wonder. It was unusual for me to admire the words of a person, a politician!, to feel as enthusiastic as I felt, and as optimistic. I will explain why shortly.
See, I don’t believe in the Savior or in this notion that many have, the notion that one person can change the course of history, that one person can save us. I have been skeptical for many years about the power of the individual but I have always believed in the power of the collective. Indeed, when the issue was raised during my tutorial, I reiterated my position: “The one, the leader would be nothing without his/her people.” Yet, however different and free of those assumptions I like to believe I am, I really do what pretty much everyone else does: I look up to people I admire and most importantly I idolize individuals.
One explanation for that would be that we feel weak. In our effort to protect ourselves from the things that are out of our control, we look to something or someone else in order to gain control. That is a very common and simple explanation; but I would like to go a step further. Yes, shockingly, I will mix politics with personal affairs! Don’t we do the same with people in our lives? Isn’t it true that we idolize someone we like (I am reluctant to use the word love)? Or if you think that idolize is too strong of a word, don’t we overlook flaws or mistakes? Haven’t you ever been treated like nothing but stayed instead of running away or even tried to defend that behavior? Although there is something to be said about masochism in that instance, in my opinion it has to do with romance. I am obviously not referring to rainbows and unicorns and butterflies. I am referring to that romantic view of perfection, of completeness and of beauty. We all do it. I’ve done it and you’ve done it.
I used to believe that something like this is blinding. That it is better to see the truth and admit it. That the guy/girl who is not texting you is not busy/tired/has lost their phone/the battery has died/they are in class/they are sleeping/they are lost but is really not that interested in you; the usual self-defense mechanism. Or that politicians, well, lie. A lot. But I have started to change my mind; I have started to think that maybe we need that. We need the fantasy and the romance. Otherwise, our life would be such a crude reality. One that I am not sure we would be able to live through happily.
This rant ties back to politics (what doesn’t in my life). For I had lost faith in politics. Due to what was happening in my country (Greece) I lost faith in politicians and leaders. I felt that nothing I could do would change things. I would listen to a speech and try to find the lies hidden beneath. But as I listened to Biden’s speech, I felt some of that spark that people feel that hope. Not merely because he inspired me, but because I remembered what it is to believe in something and to have hope.
I still don’t think that one person can change the world or even their own country. But, I think that they can change people’s lives by giving them hope and something to believe in and then they themselves will change the world around them. Idolize away, I say! We need it so as not to be driven mad by reality. We need to remember that no one is perfect, or a personification of all that is good. Especially someone who won’t say hi to you. In that case, you better find someone else to idolize.
Politics and life; they are far more connected than you think.

-Zafeuri Chiliada

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