We tend to make things into idols. An example that comes to mind is the Egyptian Empire. Their gods were manifested into enormous stone carvings, draped in gold and jewels, and placed atop enormous marble pedestals. From this location they could observe their kingdom and the people below could stare and praise with wonder and awe in all that they were.
Statues, that’s what they were. Disregarding the religious representation they held, these glorious works of art were merely enormous marble carvings with a slew of imperfections. The people would be able to see every imperfection in the stone: marks from the artist, nature’s wear and tear, it all would have been visible, and the perfection of the idols would have at least been able to be contested. The thing that separated them from these imperfections was the pedestal.
The Egyptians are most definitely not the only society to idolize things. In fact, we do it every day with people. We see someone like a celebrity, politician, or even simply a friend who we think can do no wrong. They seem to do so much good, and contribute nothing but good things to society. Here the pedestal is constructed.
When these people are seen in these few instances as essentially flawless, we decide that they are someone we should try to model our lives after, someone we should idolize. So you build them a pedestal, place them on top, and when they inevitably disappoint your expectations, it seems as if you can never look at them the same way again, and you shouldn’t.
“This hierarchical system is not something that is used to make friends. It is used to create separation and perpetuate a power dynamic.”
People are not meant to be on pedestals. People are human. Humanity is imperfect by nature and we do not always make the best choices. For that reason we cannot stand on a pedestal. We need room to learn and grow from our mistakes. We have to be able to roam around and encounter different people, and figure out how exactly we are supposed to function and live a life we can be happy with.
Pedestals and pedestal-worthy people are idyllic but they have none of these features I have mentioned. They are high above the ground, away from any other people to learn from. Most of all, their surface is so limited one may only sit or stand. There is no room to wander or grow, and if you mess up and your pedestal begins to fall, it is a long way down to the ground.
While I will encourage you to not put other people on a pedestal, I will extend that encouragement for you to not put yourself on a pedestal either. When a person idolizes another person, it is out of the subject’s control that they are being idolized. When people idolize themselves, they believe it is everyone else’s job to ensure the proper respect is being paid, even if that magnitude of respect is far from deserved. This attitude is usually not well received. Once you have placed yourself on your pedestal, you are far away from regular human contact. You have subjected yourself to a life of never truly knowing what people think, as you are too far above them to begin to understand what they see.
That pedestal might be magnificent. It might be an awe inspiring work that has taken you years of blood, sweat, tears, and heartache to get to. You might be very proud of how high up you’ve gone. People were not meant to climb too high. We aren’t the most height-prone species in the world. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t try to achieve great things. We should keep moving forward in this world and strive to be the best people we can with the things we were given.
The thing about a self-given pedestal is that you put yourself there because you feel you are better than the people you place on the ground. This hierarchical system is not something that is used to make friends. It is used to create separation and perpetuate a power dynamic.
If you want to live a life full of love and friendship, please beware of pedestals. They will not help you in these pursuits.
However, if you would like to live a life that takes you to the top, I leave you with this: life atop a pedestal might be glorious. The view I am sure is spectacular. But with a surface area that small and exclusive, you will have no room to share the view once you’ve reached the top.