in favor of the braveheart chicken

In 1959, Allen Ginsberg said America was having a nervous breakdown…

Maybe he was exaggerating for effect.

However, it’s no exaggeration to say, that in 2017, we’re a very very nervous nation…

No breakdown yet, but our condition is indeed serious.  Nervous citizens and nervous nations can act erratically, impulsively—sometimes violently.

Though I don’t have a cure for our nervousness, I do have a helpful suggestion…

A suggestion based on my own experience as a nervous person:

I think it’s best if we finally admit how afraid we are.  And when I say “we” I mean everyone—yes, that includes all you pumped-up, testosterone-driven ninja-commando hyper-warriors.  Admit it–you’re just as scared as the rest of us.

Yes, I realize I’m asking you to go against an American ideal.  When dealing with a threat, we’re supposed to show cold-face composure based on a snake-like inner calm.  Think of Dirty Harry chewing a hot dog while preparing to blow some punk away.

But trying to maintain that facade can actually create what we’re trying to avoid.  If we deny our fear, we may erupt when the inner tension becomes much too much.  Would-be Dirty Harrys often end up running amok.

On the other hand…

…by being aware of our fear, we learn how to deal with the tension.  We’re able to control our fear, instead of being controlled by it.  We can act with courage when the situation requires—no matter how nervous we may be.

To help with this shift in attitude, I say we need different stories, different models.  Less Predator, and more The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.  We need nervous heroes who are painfully aware of how nervous they are.

This new-ideal hero will have learned to live with his high anxiety.  So, he’s able to keep his head as tension mounts—which means, he keeps his heart too.  He’ll “do the right thing”.

Yes, such braveheart chickens would be good models…but I’m realistic…

I don’t expect audiences to reject the cold-hell heroes any time soon…

We won’t, because that’s who we wish we could be.

Here’s the secret: that’s actually who we are—at least, in part.  I believe we all have that aspect—that archetype—within ourselves.  It may be deeply buried, but it’s there somewhere.

To me, the trick is: to find both the negative and positive sides of that aspect…

…then activate the positive.

But to stay on the positive side, I believe we must remain aware of our fear—our inner Mr. Chicken.

Unless we develop that awareness, I think our nation may indeed have a breakdown—a breakdown expressed in an eruption.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
Common Courage: a poetry book


About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, and fabulist...A new mythologist, a peace miller, a dream worker...I don't qualify as an illustrator or photographer--I just "make pictures"...I have thirteen books available at amazon... I currently reside in northwest Arkansas, but have lived and worked all over the United States... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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