Feet of Clay

We all grow up with heroes, people whose accomplishments we admire, whose philosophies and ideals helped to shape our own. As time passes our social conscience develops, the historical record (or our awareness of it) becomes more detailed, and our perspectives change. Unless our role models are fictional, we are bound to discover that they have faults. Often these faults will take the form of attitudes and actions which we find disagreeable in our current social environment. This raises a vexing question: may we dismiss these actions and attitudes by recognizing that they might have been more socially acceptable in the historical context from which they were born? Or must we reevaluate the meaning these people might have for us, in light of the discovery of their shortcomings?

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