Prophets, Martyrs, Princes and Mystics

In the vein of my Tillman Story post, I was rolling over in my head what it was I was trying to say about the people who influence their age. It’s probably no secret to anyone that we love to put those who have “died for the cause” on a unreproachable pedistal. Take JFK for a recent example. The guy was not without his sins or flawas but they pale in the shadow of his legacy via martyrdom. The fact that the guy was taken out not only, virtually erased his sins, but amplified his accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong, he was a war hero and president and I admire the man all the same, but I shy from any talk of sainthood.

Same could be said and is, by those closest to him, of Pat Tillman. The sainthood is fresh on people’s mind now, so the truth (and thanks to modern technology, filmmakers and bureaucracy for that) is still attainable, yet still people want to make him a martyr for a cause. Instead of just what he was…a guy who “walked it like he talked it” and was willing to sacrifice himself for his ideals.

I wonder if there is a formula that takes into account the actual good a person does + the timeframe + the impact to the folks around them at the time, multiplied by the amount of time that has passed, all the while taking into account variables such as records, technology and the religious views of the time and place. And could that formula account for the amount of supernatural bullshit that is attached to their legacy.

Jesus for instance. The guy probably just wanted to raise the bar on humanity and was willing to sacrifice himself (maybe…who really knows what he wanted) for what he believed in. He saw a world/society spinning out of control, and saw that the solution to the madness, and ultimately the only thing that may prevent our extinction, was setting some simple standards of conduct to guarantee the survival of the species. But that’s never good enough is it? There’s always this call by those who ascribe something otherwordly to those people, isn’t there.

 “No, I knew the dude. He was a regular guy. He just thought we could do better.”
“Wrong! Blasphemer! How dare you compare our lord to common humans. He was the son of God and was bestowed with the powers of the divine! BURN HIM!”

I just think Jesus would be like “Chill! I just wanted people to stop killing each other for no reason.”

Same goes for anyone who speaks for their time. Bob Marley, whose music I adore and whose message of hope and love I embrace, was, to me, a prophet of his generation. A prophet in the literal sense, not some crazy religious mumbo-jumbo. The man simply saw a better world and was able to convey it using his immense talent. He was no saint though. Just ask his wife or any number of women Bob had been unfaithful to her with. I’m not knocking the guy at all, and I’m sure he’d be the first one to say “eh, mon, I’m only human, irie”. Add to it that he thought Halie Selassie was a living God, and the religious element of his thang is lost on me.

I guess the conclusion to this rant would just be that, in my estimation, we’ll never really learn from any of these prophets, martyrs, princes or mystics until we learn that they are not those things. Just people trying to make the world a better place. They have no magic powers and it’s offensive to ascribe them or their legacies with such. The only reason to do so is to manipulate people into following some organized thing instead the truth.

Amen.

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