Let me start off by saying this should serve as an obituary of sorts. A death notice. Because, personally, I don’t believe the media has gotten it QUITE right.
The world lost two South Africans this Valentine’s Day. Reeva Steenkamp, a model and women’s rights activist, died February 14th when she was shot and killed, allegedly by her boyfriend. A bikini model with a law degree, she was not afraid to use her celebrity and speak up in the fight to end violence against women. Sadly, she lost her own life to the sort of crimes she sought to end.
Also passing on Thursday: Oscar Pistorius, or, at least, one of them. Allow me to explain.
Pistorius himself, the physical human being, is very much alive. But the man we saw Thursday afternoon, an alleged murderer cowering from the spotlight under a grey track jacket, barely resembled the Oscar Pistorius we had become inspired by this summer during the Olympic games.
This disparity is no deception. For when that gun was supposedly fired inside that South African residence yesterday, not one but two spirits were snuffed out by the barrel of a 9mm handgun.
Reeva Steenkamp is gone. There is no bringing her back. But the same bodes true for the so-called ‘Blade Runner’ we came to love, admire, and ultimately root for in London seven months ago. He was the first amputee ever to compete in the Olympic games, and he was a DOUBLE amputee at that. His story — his personal epic — was so inconceivable that we dared say a man with two partial legs somehow held an advantage over those who had full ones.
He didn’t win any medals, but he didn’t HAVE to win any medals. His story was more precious than gold. He brought an heir of normalcy to millions of people around the world that, all their life, had been told they were anything but. He wasn’t an Olympic hero, he was a HUMAN hero.
The operative words there? ‘Was’ and ‘human’.
Because now, like the woman he loved, he is dead. What remains is a dark soul, a villainous monster that we now see is inexplicably more deformed on the inside than he ever was on the out.
Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I am not holding Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius in the same light. Steenkamp was the victim of heinous crime, and Pistorius is the man who killed her.
In reality, you know that, I know that, we all know that.
What I’m saying is that there must’ve TWO Pistrorius’, or maybe Pistorii? There was the man and the hero. The man was the Pistorius that was born into this world, the Pistorius that breathed air, bled blood, and shed way too much of it on Valentine’s Day 2013. Pistorius the hero, on the other hand, is the one that WE created. We, COLLECTIVELY, brought him into this world, and he is now gone. And that, too, is because of us.
You see, heroes aren’t immortal. In fact, they’re just the opposite. Heroes are significantly more frail, precious works that can be destroyed by the slightest wayward step.
This is because heroes are perfect. We’ve made that a requirement of their existence. And to be perfect is virtually impossible.
Committing evil or doing wrong is a lazy man’s task. You don’t have to be evil all the time for us to call you so. Maybe someone commits one evil act a week. That means six out of seven days, they aren’t an evil person. But if someone committed 52 evil acts a year, we would probably call them just that.
To be perfect, on the other hand, to be a HERO, is to be infallible every minute — nay — every SECOND of your existence.
In theory, that’s all fine. But in practice, there is one inescapable flaw. We create our heroes OUT OF humans. We make something that we demand to be perfect out of something we know will never be. It’s a beautiful, horrible catch-22.
That is how I’ve come to the rational conclusion that there were two Oscar Pistorii. If a hero is perfect, if a hero cannot do wrong, and if Oscar Pistorius was a hero according to us, than obviously Oscar Pistorius died the second his finger allegedly pulled that trigger. And yet, there was Pistorius Thursday afternoon: living, breathing, and being led away by authorities.
Knowing all this, how would YOU describe the situation.
Yes, that is what I believe happened. Not only do I believe Oscar Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp, but I also believe he killed Oscar Pistorius. A woman and a hero. Her hero. OUR hero.
Both killed by a man we clearly never knew.