Many years ago I buried my resident bleeding-heart 40 feet under, with a stern admonishment never to darken my door again - but ever so oft something makes him tunnel out of his grave and then I have to bury him again (like Groucho does with his ancestors).
The latest provocation is this new shoe polish ad where a dapper-looking Mahendra Singh Dhoni turns to the camera and tells us, “I decided not to be ordinary. I chose to shine.” Cut to close-up of shoe-polishers looking up at Dhoni in adoration and subservience; looking, essentially, like buffoons who have “chosen” their lot, chosen to be “ordinary”.
Arguably, the young cricketer’s decision to take part in this vile ad was more ill-advised. No point in being too hard on him - the early months of being a celebrity can be difficult for even the most level-headed people and he’s bound to do stupid things in the first flush of stardom; almost everyone does. But hopefully, as he matures he’ll understand that it’s poor taste to take cheap digs at the less fortunate, to participate in the grand (and grandly puerile) conceit that people can just choose to be whatever they want to be - all you need is the Will to Succeed, the Ambition, the Drive, or the Cover Drive for that matter. (After all, isn’t life scripted by Deepak Chopra and Paulo Coelho?)
I’m sure Dhoni has worked very hard to get where he is, and yes, there is a genuinely inspirational element in the stories of many sportspersons like him. But there are other equally important factors at work in any of those stories - sheer luck being foremost among them. So hopefully he’ll also eventually learn something about the phrase “There but for the grace of God go I”. (Substitute God with Random Selection if you prefer.) Even though that doesn't make much of a punchline for a shoe-polish ad...
P.P.S. Bleeding-heart successfully reinterred.