GRE Issue Essay 32
“The best way to understand the character of a society is to examine the character of the men and women that the society chooses as its heroes or its heroines.”
The character of a society is determined by the character of the people who form that society. A society idolizes certain men and women as its heroes and heroines depending on what these people have done for the society. These people may be politicians or they may have brought about a radical change in the way people live in that society. Irrespective of what they have done for the society, their characters cannot determine the character of the entire society as these people will have their own individual characteristics that cannot reflect the characters of all the people who are a part of that society. This is because each individual has his own perception about the things around him and this perception shapes his character. There may be some cases wherein people try to emulate their idols, but this does not mean that the entire society’s character can be understood by studying the character of its heroes and heroines.
The news channels and the newspapers are always following well-known people for a peep into their personal lives. Lady Diana was adored and loved by millions of people across the world. She was the idol of not only her country but also many other countries around the world. There have been numerous occasions where people have maligned her name by associating her with scandals even after her death. If these accusations are true, then do the societies that worship her have the same character? What about the heroes and heroines who are respected and loved for the characters that they portray in movies? It is a well known fact that the lives of models, actors and artists are laced with scandals and controversies. Some of them are known drug-addicts and others lead amorous lives. Does the society that idolizes these people have the same character? It would be wrong to assume that the society has the same character as it is an accepted fact that these people are liked for their values other than their characters. Therefore, it is not necessary that the entire society behaves in a manner similar to the people who are loved by the masses.
Another example is that of the political leaders who have been elected by the people of a country to lead them. If they have been elected because of their honesty and their patriotism, then does this mean that the entire society is honest? On the contrary, what if one of the politicians is corrupt and unscrupulous? Will this reflect the character of the people who have elected him? The people who have elected this particular politician may be conservative, honest and God-fearing, but it is unfortunate that the true character of the politician whom they have elected as their leader is hidden from them. Even if they can see his true form after he has already been elected, a close examination of his character would reveal a character that would be far from that of the society that has chosen him.
In view of the above, it can easily be concluded that the character of a society and that of the people idolized by the society are not related in any way whatsoever. There may be some cases wherein someone has tried to imitate the character of the person he considers a hero. However, on the whole, the character of a society is independent of the character of the people chosen as its heroes and heroines. In other words, the character of the heroes and heroines is not an indication of the character of the society that has chosen them.