In countries the world over there seems to be a growing obsession with everything-celebrity. Gossip rags in every grocery-store checkout aisle. Celebrity blogs growing every day in popularity. “How many drugs is X snorting these days?” “Will Y suffer another meltdown or is Y’s life finally back on track?” “Which celebrity slit his wrists this time?” How sad that these titles are practically ripped from the headlines, and aren’t even remotely new or surprising. Some of us don’t even feel a tinge of sympathy when we read these things, either. Perhaps the constant exposure has desensitized us. Perhaps the “they-brought-it-upon-themselves” factor has hardened us.
But maybe we shouldn’t be so harsh. Who’s to say we wouldn’t encounter the same struggles ourselves in similar circumstances, and wouldn’t end up making the same choices?
All these years of constant exposure to the world of celebrities has left me with a few questions.
For instance, why is it that the people who are often considered the most beautiful, the most wealthy, often the most intelligent, the most talented, the most socially apt, and the most adored are the same people who are snorting drugs to numb the pain, are suffering very public and very embarrassing mental breakdowns, are going bankrupt, are unable to keep a marriage or a family together, and are finding their lives cut short by their own hands — whether intentional or accidental?
Bahá’u'lláh explains that:
happiness is one of the attributes of the true believer, but this cannot be achieved by a life founded on the delights and pleasures of this world. For such happiness is only transitory and can indeed be sorrow in disguise.
Could it be that these beautiful, wealthy, talented, “adored” people’s happiness is actually sorrow in disguise? Could it be that their lives are founded on the delights and pleasures of this world — delights and pleasures with definite (and often, extremely quick) expiration dates? Imagine the let down of sampling every material thing the world has to offer and still feeling empty. What would make life worth living?
the master-key of self-mastery is self-forgetfulness.
What happens when your entire sense of self is founded on how others perceive you, and suddenly you’ve packed on a few pounds and the public opinion is no longer favorable? What happens when you realize your friends have had their own pockets and celebrity in mind when spending time with you?
Bahá’u'lláh further explains that
true loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self.
To which self does He refer? To the material self who is beautiful, fits into size 2 jeans, can charge whatever they want to their credit card, and has a pretty smile? Or to the self who was created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization? Who realizes that their true glory and joy in this life stems from their ability to improve their world — to help their fellow brothers and sisters confront the challenges constantly being poured on their road in the daily struggle to live life with joy and integrity, with humanity and decency?
So, why sympathize with celebrities? At the end of the day, it’s really easy for most of us to read about them in newspapers and magazines, and pass judgement, but who knows how any of us would live our lives given the same circumstances. To watch people make ruin of the precious days of their fleeting lives is very saddening, indeed. Hopefully their [unfortunately public] blunders will serve as something of a wake-up call to the people living that lifestyle — to do something more valuable with their resources and positions — and to the people watching, especially the youth, to choose different and better role models, and to set their, to set our, sights on things more meaningful than the glittering trinkets of this earthly plane.