5 Contemporary Cultural Heroes

There are a lot of people active in cultural and media circles these days, and a ton of them are people who deeply interest me and continually impress me. I’d like to highlight, for you, five people active right now, producing regular content, who I think are really a positive force on society. While I very much respect intellect and the strategic mind of many great thinkers, and the fighting spirit and bravery possessed by principled champions of issues, these are the folks that I find I really would like to praise.

I know in my own life, in the past, when I was younger and less secure about my intelligence, I was guilty of sharp sarcasm and acerbic wit. As I got older, I came to the conclusion that my heart was my strongest asset, that intelligence without sensitivity and good-nature is an un-aimed gun. I’ve been brushing up on a bit of the philosophy I’ve forgotten from college, and what Socrates has to say in Plato’s Euthydemus, after debating the origins of success, is that success is best attributed to wisdom (sophia), and that intellectual rigor (episteme) creates the fertile ground for good fortune (eutuchia), but “if a man had wisdom, he had no need of good fortune in addition”.

That said, here are my top five examples of people who are displaying admirable wisdom in media:

5. Prince Ea

Prince Ea is a well-known influencer who posts daily affirmations and videos illuminating the wisdom that leads toward happiness. He preaches gratitude in life and understanding. He preaches togetherness. On a daily basis, his message is inspirational and offers a deep glimpse into the truth of unlocking happiness. As with anything, you can find flaws within his message, and with any media personality there’s always a lingering cynicism that the personality is a marketing stunt — but, taking a step back to its most basic description, this is a guy who wakes up and talks about positivity almost every day. You can follow him @PrinceEa.

4. Bunty King

Bunty King is a charismatic and good-hearted youtuber who emerged out of the gamergate fiasco, amassing a set of followers that run the gamut across the ideological spectrum. Bunty uses humor and engagement to diffuse tension and is always open to discussing things with people, especially those who hold opposing views. It takes a certain kind of bravery and a mastery of social skills to be able to provide an example of engaging in a positive conversation with people with whom you’ve had conflict or disagreement, and Bunty does it twice a week. He gives people a chance and opportunity to explain themselves after our modern social media mob-mentality pins a scarlet letter on them. You can follow him @realbuntyking

3. Owen Benjamin

Owen Benjamin is a comedian from upstate New York who’s traversed both blue and red areas and walked away with a strong commitment to a worldview that says “We can disagree and still be friends,” and he uses his comedy in a very intelligent way — to push the envelope forward and bring the avant-garde of the conversation about our taboo political disagreements to light and, ultimately, closer toward truth. To circle back to what I mentioned in the opening about intelligence without heart being an un-aimed gun: Owen’s gun is perfectly calibrated and aimed directly at a target that will advance goodwill. Plus, he’s just outright a fantastic comic. You can follow him @OwenBenjamin

2. Mike Rowe

Mike Rowe is a TV show host, famous for hosting the show Dirty Jobs, where he shined a respectful light on the working class Americans who, with grit and honor, were doing the thankless work most celebrities wouldn’t dare touch. Currently, he’s moved on to another show called Returning the Favor where he finds people who are going out of their way to do good in the world and give them assistance and a showcase episode that amounts to a love note of gratitude. He’s toured around the country giving speeches about the need for providing blue collar work and those who aspire to it respect. The characteristic Mike does so well at reinforcing is the very true concept, so often lost in modern society, that you are no better than anybody else and nobody is better than you. You may be richer, more skilled, luckier, or have any other advantage, but everyone is equally human; more than that, when you get into their world, and get to know them, your biases shatter. You can follow Mike Rowe at @MikeRoweWorks

1. Joe Rogan

Joe Rogan is the host of a well known long-form podcast called the Joe Rogan Experience. What’s at the heart of Joe’s podcast is his honesty, integrity, kindness and most of all, inquisitiveness. He hosts people from all edges of the political spectrum and manages, somehow, to always eke out two to three hours of conversation that humanizes his guest, filled to the brim with interesting conversation that elucidates the truth of the topics of the day. He’s measured almost always and, when he makes a mistake, effusively self-correcting. He’s always interested in what his guests have to say and, even when it’s clear he disagrees with them, proffers a Socratic-method style questioning in order to learn more about their point of view. He manages to do all of this while also being the down-to-Earth, funny as hell kind of guy you know you would want to hang out with. You can follow Joe at @joerogan

These are people who I’ve really grown to respect and admire. Of course, there are way more examples out there — not only in the media, but amongst your friends and neighbors as well. I aspire to contribute to society in the same direction as them and, perhaps, with wisdom, reach the same cultural penetration. I truly hope, even beg of you, that in the upcoming season of our increasingly interconnected lives, these are the types of people who earn respect in our society.

Thank you for reading. I hope you gained something valuable from this article!