There are many things in pop-culture that often leave me confused, but I tend to ignore it. After all, I’m not someone who really keeps up with those aspects of American culture. I don’t generally read celebrity gossip, who’s dating or who’s breaking up, what a musicians favorite food it, and so on. When I see someone has his own reality show I tend to think, “Well that person must be famous for something.” So when I saw the Kardashians had a reality show, I figured that one of the daughters or someone did something that displayed talent. Turns out, the Kardashians are simply famous for being famous; they’ve done nothing, except work as an OJ Simpson defense lawyer. The most famous one, Kim, is famous for a sex tape and for being friends with someone who is famous (who was likewise famous for being friends with people who were famous). In other words, the Kardashians didn’t save a Haitian village, raise money to help the poor, or drop a few coins in the Salvation Army pot around Christmas time in order to garnish this fame; they simply existed.
There’s nothing wrong with being famous. Some people come into fame by accident and not searching for it. But often we find people seeking fame. They want to be famous and not always for the wealth that comes with it or invites to exclusive parties. They want to be famous because it means they’ll be known. To be famous plays to the fountain of all human sin, it plays to our pride. But like any sin, while it might bring pleasure in the moment, such pleasure is temporary and will soon subside and fade away.
For instance, ask anyone under the age of 15 about Macaulay Culkin or Kurt Cobain. While some astute youth might know who they are, most of them wouldn’t recognize the names or know what each one is famous for. But if you ask them about Justin Beiber or Paris Hilton, they’ll know exactly who you’re talking about and can say quite a bit about them. Most kids and adults can name the celebrities of their time and culture without hesitation. Generally, those celebrities are famous for being able to play a sport very well, perform music very well, or act very well. In American culture, some people are famous for existing very well.
How many teenagers can recount the lives of Jason Durham or Michael Monsoor? Most will never recognize the names, much less what they did. Both of these men earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for diving on grenades to save people in their squads. They both did this in Iraq (they are 2 of 4 winners, all of whom died for their actions of sacrifice). These men epitomize the idea of self-sacrifice – to die so that someone else might live – yet are completely unknown. How many know Vernon Burger who with his wife has established orphanages in Sudan? He didn’t just go on a telethon to raise money for Darfur; he went there and established orphanages for the people there, putting money into action. There are many more people who had given up their lives in the service of others, either by dying or by sacrificing their dreams and desires in order to serve other people.
Yet, we don’t make these people famous. We don’t lift up the founders of orphanages or the champions of the homeless on pedestals. Our role models aren’t those who sacrifice themselves for others, but those who sacrifice others for themselves. When we model ourselves after selfish people, we become selfish and lose our identity. Continue reading