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Few personages escape their own dark shadows

National icon: A reader wrote of his respect for the late Julian Hall and his desire to emulate him (File photograph)

Dear Sir,

After reading Eron Hill’s letter in the RG (So much we can learn from Bermudian icon), his desire to emulate his hero, Julian Hall, and then reading some of the subsequent comments and blogs, I thought it appropriate to add something to the topic about icons and national heroes.

It would come as no surprise that some persons’ view of Julian Hall was opposite of that of the young aspirant Eron, which does nothing to negate the dynamics or efficacy of Julian’s legacy.

Also considering Julian’s passing was not too long ago and near enough to be still fresh among many of his contemporaries, means the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, which for some are irreconcilable, are still very alive.

It would escape this generation that the similar phenomenon would be the lot of the much heralded EF Gordon, the icon of the labour movement.

Depending on how old one is or who you knew, the stories abound, which would cast serious shadows over the often triumphant notions of him as the reputable labour leader.

Even the infamous Karl Marx, known by many as the father of communist and socialist thought, seen as the liberator of the working class, will face the similar dichotomy of character verses persona.

Few personages will escape their own dark shadows, even Winston Churchill, the hero of Second World War Britain, will not avoid the purge on the imperfect characters that many leaders under the microscope can be seen.

Given our seemingly natural thirst for the chaste, there will be few heroes surviving our scrutiny, if any, once we uncover the sideshow veiled by their persona.

Notwithstanding, must we dismiss their failings and view them solely by and in the context of their higher ideals?

Our human imperfections are a given, but should there be limitations beyond which imperfections become an impediment to leadership or respected leadership? Society is a huge determinant as a factor, not so much in virtue of leaders but in celebration and support.

National and even ethnic desire has been seen over the years to extol those who were deemed to satisfy the need to regain lost pride and dignity.

The yearning for this messianic-type deliverer still exists while too often it has been the case that the social choice has led to the very opposite of the dream, and stagnated growth and true emancipation in the process.

The famous biblical story of Barabbas, who was freed as a choice between himself or Jesus.

Barabbas, who satisfied the Jewish need for political sovereignty, led them to a brutal slaughter at the hands of the Romans.

There was Hitler, who did the same, and if we go through the pages of history, it is replete with similar examples. The national desire for freedom as expressed by the beleaguered comes in two clear forms — either as the desire for true emancipation and liberty, or for vengeance — and is demonstrated in their approvals.

It should come as no surprise that many heroes become popular because of their stand against the deemed oppressors.

It was their bravery in the face of adversity and ability to make bold-faced stands where others have trembled that gave them recognition.

Rarely is there the acid test between their bravery and their wisdom, their criticism of the oppressive systems or the guidance as deliverance through them.

Neither is there the forbearance to analyse the base desire and motivations of potential leaders. Too often we have systems that perpetuate character types that generate popularity without real substance.

I think young persons such as Eron demonstrate the beauty in our society and should be encouraged. We should always remember truth is beautiful and sweet, but reality is ugly and bitter.