Tina Turner sang “We don’t need another hero” but events this past fortnight tell us she was wrong.
Society needs heroes, real or imaginary because we need someone to look up to, to venerate, to worship. It’s what makes our lives have some meaning.
And we will latch onto any event or any person who can provide us with an idol. If that idol meets with an untimely death then we will feel a common grief and the entire tragedy becomes some kind of cathartic expression.
We witnessed this kind of behaviour when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident. There was an outbreak of mass hysteria which even the Queen could not understand. Hence her initial lack of response.
It appears to me that the accidental death of cricketer Phillip Hughes and the reaction of the public are evidence that we enjoy a good cry. It brings us together and we feel better for it.
There is no question that Phillip was a popular and talented cricketer who died far too soon.
But the reaction of the public which was fuelled by the media was way over the top. It is frightening to think how we can all be manipulated by constant images of grown men crying. This was the media milking the accident for all it was worth and I felt uncomfortable with it.
I feel particularly sad for the bowler whose bouncing delivery caused the accident. How can he possibly cope with this outpouring of grief? How can he live a normal life after this event? Won’t he be tormented by guilt for the rest of his life?
We should get some perspective on the subject, but that is impossible when we are at the mercy of a rapacious sensation-seeking media.
We should offer our condolences to Phillip Hughes’ family and hope that he can rest in peace.