Breaches in the Idol: When Admiration Becomes Worship.

3 Mons Ago
Breaches in the Idol: When Admiration Becomes Worship.

By Staff Contributor.

The other day, I found myself in a taxi with a lady who appeared to be in her late 50s. As we traveled, a man dressed in a suit got in the taxi, and to my surprise, she insisted on giving up her seat for him. It puzzled me because he wasn't older than her and didn't seem to have any visible physical disabilities. I couldn't help but wonder why she would do such a thing. In my mind, I started to come up with possible explanations. Maybe he was her supervisor/employer, and she wanted to show respect by giving up her seat. Or perhaps he had been kind to her in the past, either by offering financial assistance or helping her out in some way, and she wanted to repay the favor. Another possibility was that he was a doctor who had saved the life of someone she loved. While I didn't have an issue with her act of kindness itself, I was more interested in understanding her motivation. Personally, I believe in chivalry, and I think it should be men who offer their seats to women, not the other way around. However, I would gladly give up my seat for someone in genuine need, regardless of their gender. That being said, I wouldn't expect others to give up their seats for me unless I was pregnant, unwell, or had a physical impairment.

It later occurred to me that I had encountered a similar incident in the past, albeit with a different twist. This time, it was an elderly woman who graciously offered her seat to a younger religious individual. I am well aware of the deep respect that many Ethiopians hold for religious people, sometimes going as far as revering them to the point of kissing the ground they walk on. While it is understandable to show respect towards religious individuals as believers, it is important to remember that they should not be worshipped. Reverence, in essence, involves looking at someone with admiration and respect, acknowledging their greatness without feeling inferior. We hold our elders in reverence for paving the way for us, as well as religious leaders who have taught us our sacred texts. We also revere artists who touch our souls with their creations. This recognition of brilliance is truly a beautiful thing, a testament to the ability of humans to inspire one another. However, there is a catch. Humans are inherently flawed. We stumble, we contradict ourselves, and we disappoint. When the object of our reverence falters and the cracks in their pedestal become apparent, that's when things become complicated.

Throughout my life, I have encountered numerous instances where individuals who claim to be religious have engaged in actions that are completely unexpected from a religious individual. I understand that nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes, but it would be better if they refrained from committing sins openly. People often argue that we should focus on their teachings rather than their actions since they are only human. However, imagine how you would feel if a doctor warned you about the dangers of smoking while holding a cigarette. You wouldn't take them seriously, right? Similarly, religious individuals should strive to be virtuous and serve as role models for others. They should be someone, we should look up to hoping to attain spiritual purification and enlightenment through their guidance. It is impossible for someone who walks around naked to teach about modesty, or for someone who constantly talks about war to preach about peace. Likewise, a religious person who does not live according to the principles of their faith is not in a position to preach to others.

We should respect authority, but worship should be reserved solely for the creator. It's not just religious figures who are worshipped, but also celebrities. You know, that intoxicating feeling of admiration that sometimes transforms into something more. An artist whose every masterpiece exudes magic. And somewhere along the way, the line between "wow, they're talented" and "oh, they're practically divine" becomes a bit blurry. Consider idolizing a scientist whose groundbreaking research changed the world, only to discover later that they engaged in unethical practices. The feeling of awe quickly transforms into a sickening sense of betrayal, and the pedestal on which they stood crumbles, leaving us searching for the shattered pieces of our misplaced faith. In such instances, disillusionment sets in, and the reverence you once felt turns into a bitter aftertaste. While many of us have had celebrity crushes at some point in our lives, it's common to outgrow them. Looking back at the times when I lost my mind over a band and was transported to another world just because they were performing, I can't help but laugh at my naivety. I don't regret those experiences, as they were wonderful and taught me valuable lessons. However, if I were to relive those moments, I would establish a clear boundary between reverence and worship.

When we place someone on a pedestal, we conveniently overlook their flaws. We cease to question and analyze, making us vulnerable to manipulation and potential harm. Moreover, idolizing others suggests that greatness is unattainable for the rest of us. We diminish our own potential in the presence of their brilliance, forgetting that we too possess the capacity for equal, if not greater, awesomeness. Elevating someone to an altar grants them immense power over us. Their approval becomes our life force, while their disapproval weakens us. This kind of unhealthy dependency hinders our personal growth and fosters toxic relationships.


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