Having heroes is dangerous.
We adopt heroes into our lives because they have qualities we admire. The downside is that, being human, they most likely have qualities we don’t admire – perhaps even abhor. Not all flaws are horrible, but some are.
Recent news highlights a perfect example in J. K. Rowling. Having made millions from her Harry Potter franchise, she declares that she’s happy to pay taxes because she remembers too well what it was like to depend on the UK’s social safety net programs to keep the lights on and food on the table when she was struggling. It is the antithesis of Tory (and indeed, Republican here in the US.) economic theory. Then she comes out in support of a rabid, anti-trans idiot who was fired from her government job for refusing to even consider that trans people are human, and deserve the same rights and respect as anyone else.
This immediately brings to mind an author who’s had an enormous amount of influence on my writing career, H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft was many things: visionary, generous with his time and advice to young-up-and-coming writers, and he was very fond of cats. The downside is he was brutally racist, both in his beliefs and his writing, and reading many of his works is often a cringe-worthy experience, particularly for non-WASP Americans.
People have flaws, and we must learn to work around those flaws if we wish to continue to have contact with those individuals. Some flaws are deal-breakers, and it’s important too to recognize that having toxic people in your life exposes you to that poison: it will either wear you down or it will poison you as you begin to accept those same toxic beliefs and attitudes. Cutting those toxic people out of your life is an acceptable response to such bad behavior; eventually they will either see the volume of friends their attitudes have driven away and perhaps reconsider, or they will find other like-minded trolls to befriend. Either way, their cancerous attitudes are out of your life, and that’s a good thing.
I am not for a moment advocating purging Rowling’s or Lovecraft’s work from your collection: what I am saying is be aware that their personal attitudes shaped their writing, and as such their work may need to be considered with a much greater degree of skepticism.
Just a reminder: to those of you who come to my blog through Facebook, I will be dialing back my Facebook presence starting in January. If you wish to keep in touch with me and Facebook is your only vector for that, I highly recommend subscribing to my blog. It takes only a few moments, theere’s a box to the side of this page that will help you do exactly that, and all that happens is you’ll get an email whenever I put up a new blog post. That’s it. You’re not signing up for anything else, and I will not sell your email info to any other entity.
I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone who reads my blog Happy Holidays, whichever one(s) you celebrate at this festive, end-of-year time. Please accept my best wishes for joyous times with family and friends.