People spend millions of dollars each year to find compatible friends and dates.
The dating sites, the self-help books and magazines and the life coaches ask copious questions about our likes and dislikes and what we need around us.
Maybe they are missing a key question that can reveal important yet hard-to-describe details about how we feel about ourselves and the world. That question relates to our feelings for lightning rod figures.
Let’s start with Tom Brady, who just lost his third Super Bowl last Sunday, despite a heroic effort. The quarterback, who has won five other Super Bowls, is a legend, is extraordinarily successful and has one of the most impressive résumés of anyone in the game. Indeed, even people who know nothing about football — and I have a foot in that camp — know who he is and have an awareness of his remarkable success.
In a country that celebrates victories, however, he doesn’t seem to be high on the national likability scale. I’m sure there are plenty of Patriots fans who disagree and think the world loves their superhero. Sorry, but I’m sure you can find the Brady haters on the internet.
Anyway, maybe what causes them to dislike the superstar is the spectacular and well-earned self-confidence. Maybe it’s the fairy tale life. Then again, isn’t that what we all buy into when we watch Disney movies? Doesn’t his name, Tom Brady, suggests some kind of Disney superhero, who saves the day with perfectly placed passes despite defenses bearing down on him?
Then again, maybe, for some his friendship with Donald Trump is problematic.
The president has become an important compatibility filter as well. It’s hard to imagine two people agreeing to disagree calmly about a president who some believe has either saved us from the likes of Hillary Clinton or has created new and deep fault lines in the country.
Then there are those people who seem to fall into and out of favor. Watching the movie “Darkest Hour,” it’s clear that other politicians didn’t see Winston Churchill as a superhero whose destiny was to lead the British nation through one of its most challenging crises. He was the right man at the right time for an impossible job, facing what seemed like insurmountable odds.
And yet, despite his cigar-chomping, nation-inspiring heroics, it was bye, bye Winston almost immediately after World War II ended.
The same could be said of America’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani. He wasn’t exactly a legend in New York before Sept. 11, 2001, as he seemed to pick fights with everyone and anyone. And then, after 9/11, he somehow struck just the right balance for a nation in mourning, offering sympathy and support while remaining proud of the country and defiant in the face of the attack. After he left office, the bloom came off that rose quickly as well.
Then there’s George W. Bush — or “43,” if you prefer. Many people couldn’t stand him when he was in office, with his nuke-u-lar (for nuclear), his snickering and his parody-able speech patterns. And yet, these days, his image and his reputation have made a comeback, particularly today as common ground seems to be disappearing under the feet of the two major political parties.
Maybe these dating sites shouldn’t ask your hobbies, religious preferences or favorite foods. Instead, they should ask what you think of Tom Brady, the current U.S. president and the wartime prime minister of England.