Many superheroes have enjoyed a surge of popularity in the world of film. There’s a reason why movies like this are so popular. They fill the same inner need that has often been satisfied by pulp magazines, comic books, graphic novels and epic fantasies. These stories of heroism mirror our own (oft-times unacknowledged) inner greatness.
Heroic epics dramatize the aspects of our own personal reality and identity that we’ve learned not to believe in.
The superhero typically has a meek and unassuming alter-ego because he or she is living out our unacknowledged reality. Our ‘secret identity’ is that of the hero.
The Suppression of Human Heroism
There’s little place for real heroism within a world-view that is painted by scientific concepts like accidental creation and dead matter or in the idea that consciousness and life itself are meaningless accidents.
Our culture, by and large, has a lot of its priorities in the wrong places; it keeps our energies consumed in petty frustrations and toils so that we remain fairly oblivious to the larger entities and movements of life.
When we’re faced with dramatic upheavals of one kind or another we have an opportunity to feel our inner heroism and wisdom, our primal kinship with nature, and our deeper bonds with each other.
Why is Story so Crucial?
Everything that we human beings use to structure our lives – to give life form, and orient ourselves – is a story: A mythology. Science is a myth, replete with its own invented language to convey it; Christianity too.
To me, the way in which a story inspires us is a much more crucial issue than the question of whether or not it is “true”. Many of our civilization’s most popular stories have inspired depression, fear, confusion, apathy, low expectations and an overall sense of diminished hopes.
We invented these stories, and we can re-invent or discard them. We can invent new ones that honor our capacity for heroism and our inner greatness.
Heroism on Micro and Macro Levels
There are probably few experiences so empowering as the realization that one’s life story can be completely re-written. This can also apply to a culture and even to the world entire.
In this physical life we encounter the limitations that we believe in. Many parts of the modern world are in crisis now because they’re seeing the mass-scale reflection of what many of us believe life is worth.
By and large, humanity has accepted the idea that it is a flawed and accidental creation; and so how are we to believe ourselves capable of greatness?
We are seeing the world picture that we have been describing to ourselves for generations through our most “cherished” myths.
If our life experience expands or contracts according to the stories that we cling to about it then the Great Quest becomes a matter of choosing those stories with greater care. We must choose our beliefs wisely, because we’ll meet with them in the world.
Can we will learn to trust ourselves enough to create our own myths, to reinvent the Gods?
Stepping Into Heroism
In the books that comprise The Edge of the Known saga, my protagonist, Brandon Chane, is on a quest to rediscover his personal heroism. He just doesn’t realize it, at the onset. He is driven by an inner need, the powerful soul intent, to find his voice and to use it to function as a communicator not only within his personal world but also the wider community.
That voice has long been stifled by the abuse of his upbringing, the hostility of his surrounding environment and his own limiting beliefs, which have convinced him that there is no real place for him in the world. Confronting these beliefs, with the help of his mystic mentor Saul, becomes the essence of his heroic quest.
This is a journey that many of us must move through if we’re to make our best possible contribution to the troubles that beset our embattled world.