I think our new mythology would do well to adopt the Greek idea of heroism.
The heroes of ancient Greek mythology performed great deeds…
…and also, at times, great misdeeds.
Achilles might carry the day against the Trojans…
…or get miffed and go off to pout, abandoning his comrades to the fight.
Whatever the Greek heroes did, they did big.
They won big, they lost big; they celebrated big, they grieved big.
On this Independence Day, I’m thinking of our own heroes, our national heroes, the heroes of my country’s history.
Though they aren’t mythic heroes, many of them have become legend.
However, in transforming them into legend, we tend to focus on certain aspects of their stories and gloss over or ignore certain inconvenient details.
Such enforced blindness does much more harm than good. Later, when we discover the hidden truths about our legends, we may feel as if we’ve been fed a lie…
We then dismiss the legend and often the real person behind the legend as well. We may even dismiss the hero’s true accomplishments.
But I find that if I can accept the mixed bag of who that person was—hard as that can be sometimes—I am expanded. In truth, I can’t reject him or her without rejecting some part of myself.
To accept is not to condone or make light of the hero’s failings. To accept helps me to admit of my own failings. I must realize these shortcomings before I can surmount them.
Accepting our flawed heroes may actually encourage me to achieve to my full potential…
As a flawed individual myself, I need to see that flawed individuals can often rise to the occasion and perform the good great deeds.
© 2011, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry