If We Judged Our Heroes Like We Judge Each Other We Wouldn’t Have Any

A realistic view of our heroes and idols leads to realistic expectations for others and ourselves


A great many writers, musicians and creators do not practice what they preach but preach what they wish to practice. That is not good or bad, but it is just the way it is. It does not discount their message.

Because we do not want to look at the ugly side of our heroes, we put away the sides of them and the facts of their existence that we find undesirable.
When we paint diluted pictures of our heroes, though, we do ourselves a great disservice. Placing people on pedestals makes it hard to separate the message from the messenger — especially when you find out the messenger wasn’t the saint you thought they were.

The truth is, if we judged our heroes and our idols near as harshly as we judge each other, we wouldn’t have any. If we erased the message and legacy of everyone who has made a mark on our world, our world would be barren, dry and lifeless.


If you knew your heroes, you might think they’re terrible

I know what some of you are thinking.

Who cares? If I can keep the message by ignoring the truth about the messenger, what is the use of knowing?

The use of this knowledge is having a realistic idea of the world. When your worldview is born of fantasies and fallacies, you inherently and unknowingly attempt to force these fantasies on the people in your life — including yourself.

Having a realistic view of the many spectrums of human nature brings harmony to life. When you ask the world and its people to fit into a box that only exists in your mind, the world and its people resist. Being at odds with the world and its people is being at odds with life. Understanding and accepting the humanness of yourself and others is the very definition of humility.

I get that humility sounds a bit drab, and you may think it is something you develop later when you are old, gray and wise — sitting in your rocking chair drinking your tea or smoking your pipe. But I invite you not to judge humility by its plain clothing.

People who are humble by nature reap rewards in life that cannot be measured. Humble confidence is a magic ingredient to internal and external fulfillment and success in life.

Knowing and accepting the truth about my heroes brings a humble feeling of appreciation to my heart for all spectrums of human nature and human existence. With humble gratitude comes respect — not only for the humanness of the world and its people but for my own.

When you accept the humanness of all people, you find a sort of peace with the world.

You can take the good with the bad. You know that no messenger is perfect and that no matter how many mistakes someone has made, that does not invalidate the good they bring into this world.

Most importantly, maybe if more people had a more realistic view of our heroes and idols, more of us would have more realistic expectations for each other and ourselves. Maybe we would condemn less and love more.

Perhaps we should tell the truth about the heroes of our past, not to cancel them and rewrite history, but to better understand each other. Because the truth is, if we went down the rabbit hole and canceled every hero with a flaw, we would have no heroes left.

Since we don’t get to pick and choose, we have two options. To keep all of them or none of them, keep every single hero or none at all. Keep all of the hero, good and bad, or throw the entire person away. We must be careful though what we collectively choose — because the same fate we choose for others is the fate we choose for ourselves. And we are human too.

All our heroes of late, with a few exceptions — like Mr. Rogers, would be condemned by the world of today.

When you head down the rabbit hole of truth around historical figures and who really said what to who, you will find truths that shift the world as you know it.

I will make an example of my personal top two.


Gandhi was the antithesis of peace and love

The name Gandhi often brings to mind peace, love and harmony. In his respective affairs, though, Gandhi was not a peaceful man at all. In fact, he was ruthless, abusive, deceitful and uncaring. He is known, like Osho, for being a player who preached celibacy, but that is only the beginning.

Gandhi was the hallmark definition of a hypocrite. He forced others into chastity, even disowning his own son for threatening to marry, yet was an adulterer and sexual predator who had exploitative sex with countless women. He abused his wife and children and left his family broke, abandoned and brokenhearted.

Gandhi appeared to have no shame in his viciousness and hypocrisy, as his ugly words are no secret. He held utter contempt for his “illiterate” wife, which he demonstrates in his own words.

I simply cannot bear to look at Ba’s face. The expression is often like that on the face of a meek cow and gives one the feeling as a cow occasionally does, that in her own dump manner she is saying something. — Gandhi

Gandhi may be known as a symbol of peace to the world, but to his own family, he was an uncaring abuser whose actions forced them into lives of misery.


John Lennon broke my heart

Another man who only fantasized about peace and love, John Lennon, took the heartbreaking cake for this 80’s baby.

Yes, I was mortified to learn about the hideous character flaws of Mother Theresa and Muhammad Gandhi. The truth about Abraham Lincoln was shocking, and I cried when I learned the truth about Christopher Columbus — a truth that only belongs in a horror movie, not a national holiday.

There was something, though, about learning the truth of John Lennon. This knowledge challenged my worldview in its very own heart-shattering way. Frankly, I still wish I could un-know it.

John Lennon was a pathological women beater. Yeah, he cheated and was an absent parent. I could more easily swallow that, alone, but this guy wasn’t just a bitter and uncaring husband and father. He would beat “any woman,” as he put it.

Furthermore, he understood the point of this article. He admitted his acts of and propensity towards violence and even acknowledged that he creates in the world that which he wishes he had within himself — but does not.

John Lennon wrote about peace and love because he lacked it inside of him. Like many of the most brilliant creators, writers and artists of all time, he tried to heal himself through his messages to the world. He didn’t give peace and love to the world because he had it but gave it because he didn’t.

In his words:

That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. — John Lennon


As we grow up from teeny babies to big and tall grown-ups, what we experience in life and learn about the world shapes who we decide to be. We are who we are, but we all get these ideas of how we want to put that into the world.

Some of us dreamt of landing on the moon or being a pivotal leader, while others dreamt of preparing decadent food or caring for animals. We shaped who we needed to be around these ideas of who we wanted to be in the world — how we would relate with its people. But we have been led to shaping our character and our expectations around fairy tales that never existed.

No matter what we fantasized about in our years of youth, we looked to those who had gone before us to show us the way. And just like history was white-washed in Western Culture, it was also good-washed. Just like we were taught that everything monumental in our evolution came from white men, we were taught that it came from inherently good people. Both prove to be false upon an earnest amount of investigation.

Just like people of all colors built our culture, so did people of all character. We were all human then, and we are all human now. When we collectively accept that, we can more effortlessly move forward in finding the change we seek. We can move forward with grace and dignity.

Written by Holly Kellums


Long form statement from John Lennon about his violent nature:

“It is a diary form of writing. All that ‘I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved’ was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically… any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.”

The full interview was published in Playboy Magazine, just days before John’s death.


A great many writers, musicians and creators do not practice what they preach but preach what they wish to practice. That is not good or bad, but it is just the way it is. It does not discount their message.

Because we do not want to look at the ugly side of our heroes, we put away the sides of them and the facts of their existence that we find undesirable.
When we paint diluted pictures of our heroes, though, we do ourselves a great disservice. Placing people on pedestals makes it hard to separate the message from the messenger — especially when you find out the messenger wasn’t the saint you thought they were.

The truth is, if we judged our heroes and our idols near as harshly as we judge each other, we wouldn’t have any. If we erased the message and legacy of everyone who has made a mark on our world, our world would be barren, dry and lifeless.


If you knew your heroes, you might think they’re terrible

I know what some of you are thinking.

Who cares? If I can keep the message by ignoring the truth about the messenger, what is the use of knowing?

The use of this knowledge is having a realistic idea of the world. When your worldview is born of fantasies and fallacies, you inherently and unknowingly attempt to force these fantasies on the people in your life — including yourself.

Having a realistic view of the many spectrums of human nature brings harmony to life. When you ask the world and its people to fit into a box that only exists in your mind, the world and its people resist. Being at odds with the world and its people is being at odds with life. Understanding and accepting the humanness of yourself and others is the very definition of humility.

I get that humility sounds a bit drab, and you may think it is something you develop later when you are old, gray and wise — sitting in your rocking chair drinking your tea or smoking your pipe. But I invite you not to judge humility by its plain clothing.

People who are humble by nature reap rewards in life that cannot be measured. Humble confidence is a magic ingredient to internal and external fulfillment and success in life.

Knowing and accepting the truth about my heroes brings a humble feeling of appreciation to my heart for all spectrums of human nature and human existence. With humble gratitude comes respect — not only for the humanness of the world and its people but for my own.

When you accept the humanness of all people, you find a sort of peace with the world.

You can take the good with the bad. You know that no messenger is perfect and that no matter how many mistakes someone has made, that does not invalidate the good they bring into this world.

Most importantly, maybe if more people had a more realistic view of our heroes and idols, more of us would have more realistic expectations for each other and ourselves. Maybe we would condemn less and love more.

Perhaps we should tell the truth about the heroes of our past, not to cancel them and rewrite history, but to better understand each other. Because the truth is, if we went down the rabbit hole and canceled every hero with a flaw, we would have no heroes left.

Since we don’t get to pick and choose, we have two options. To keep all of them or none of them, keep every single hero or none at all. Keep all of the hero, good and bad, or throw the entire person away. We must be careful though what we collectively choose — because the same fate we choose for others is the fate we choose for ourselves. And we are human too.

All our heroes of late, with a few exceptions — like Mr. Rogers, would be condemned by the world of today.

When you head down the rabbit hole of truth around historical figures and who really said what to who, you will find truths that shift the world as you know it.

I will make an example of my personal top two.


Gandhi was the antithesis of peace and love

The name Gandhi often brings to mind peace, love and harmony. In his respective affairs, though, Gandhi was not a peaceful man at all. In fact, he was ruthless, abusive, deceitful and uncaring. He is known, like Osho, for being a player who preached celibacy, but that is only the beginning.

Gandhi was the hallmark definition of a hypocrite. He forced others into chastity, even disowning his own son for threatening to marry, yet was an adulterer and sexual predator who had exploitative sex with countless women. He abused his wife and children and left his family broke, abandoned and brokenhearted.

Gandhi appeared to have no shame in his viciousness and hypocrisy, as his ugly words are no secret. He held utter contempt for his “illiterate” wife, which he demonstrates in his own words.

I simply cannot bear to look at Ba’s face. The expression is often like that on the face of a meek cow and gives one the feeling as a cow occasionally does, that in her own dump manner she is saying something. — Gandhi

Gandhi may be known as a symbol of peace to the world, but to his own family, he was an uncaring abuser whose actions forced them into lives of misery.


John Lennon broke my heart

Another man who only fantasized about peace and love, John Lennon, took the heartbreaking cake for this 80’s baby.

Yes, I was mortified to learn about the hideous character flaws of Mother Theresa and Muhammad Gandhi. The truth about Abraham Lincoln was shocking, and I cried when I learned the truth about Christopher Columbus — a truth that only belongs in a horror movie, not a national holiday.

There was something, though, about learning the truth of John Lennon. This knowledge challenged my worldview in its very own heart-shattering way. Frankly, I still wish I could un-know it.

John Lennon was a pathological women beater. Yeah, he cheated and was an absent parent. I could more easily swallow that, alone, but this guy wasn’t just a bitter and uncaring husband and father. He would beat “any woman,” as he put it.

Furthermore, he understood the point of this article. He admitted his acts of and propensity towards violence and even acknowledged that he creates in the world that which he wishes he had within himself — but does not.

John Lennon wrote about peace and love because he lacked it inside of him. Like many of the most brilliant creators, writers and artists of all time, he tried to heal himself through his messages to the world. He didn’t give peace and love to the world because he had it but gave it because he didn’t.

In his words:

That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. — John Lennon


As we grow up from teeny babies to big and tall grown-ups, what we experience in life and learn about the world shapes who we decide to be. We are who we are, but we all get these ideas of how we want to put that into the world.

Some of us dreamt of landing on the moon or being a pivotal leader, while others dreamt of preparing decadent food or caring for animals. We shaped who we needed to be around these ideas of who we wanted to be in the world — how we would relate with its people. But we have been led to shaping our character and our expectations around fairy tales that never existed.

No matter what we fantasized about in our years of youth, we looked to those who had gone before us to show us the way. And just like history was white-washed in Western Culture, it was also good-washed. Just like we were taught that everything monumental in our evolution came from white men, we were taught that it came from inherently good people. Both prove to be false upon an earnest amount of investigation.

Just like people of all colors built our culture, so did people of all character. We were all human then, and we are all human now. When we collectively accept that, we can more effortlessly move forward in finding the change we seek. We can move forward with grace and dignity.

Written by Holly Kellums


Long form statement from John Lennon about his violent nature:

“It is a diary form of writing. All that ‘I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved’ was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically… any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.”

The full interview was published in Playboy Magazine, just days before John’s death.


Originally published on Medium.com

Featured image: ”Mural: Mahatma Gandhi” by Franco Folini is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 and “John Lennon Painting” by CJ Sorg is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Published by hollykellums

Internationally Published Author * Influencer * Recovery Coach * Human Potential Activist

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