Friday, May 9, 2008

Heroes Who Quit and Why

There's an old saying, a very common ideology that states "You can't have good without evil." Its echoed in the Yin-Yang concept of Light and Dark and there are even songs about this seeming duality in our present world (or at least the presence of the two side-by-side), "Every Rose Has Its Thorns" by Guns-N-Roses for example. :)

Good things happen and bad things happen, certainly. But I think there is a false dichotomy in the phrase "You cannot have good without evil." It sounds a bit like evil is necessary, a vital component that, if taken out, would result in a dull, boring, monotonous, Republican-filled, middle-class white America meets The Stepford Wives scenario. You gotta shake things up, keep violence and energy in a system or it will become stagnant.


I think that's a load of hooey. I think we've defined "good" as "good for me" - a bit of an Epicurian philosophy and it smacks of egoism.

I understand what people are trying to say, but they're unintentionally affirming raw competition, ego and pride - all these things that come forth in "me first" actions. When C. S. Lewis wrote about this endemic human vice, "Pride is essentially competitive. We say a man is proud of being rich or clever or good looking, but really we are saying he is proud of being richer or cleverer or better-looking than another person."

It is the vice that turned an angel into a demon. Racism is based on it (I'm a better race than you). Materialism is based on it (I own more than you or them or my parents). So are so many other "ism's" you can name; it makes a thing or quality an idol, a god to be served.

May I state what I believe to be true?

You cannot have heroes without evil.

You see, I can have a very good day of loving a friend, making supper and walking a dog or painting a picture, playing with the cat or shopping for new clothes. Those are good things within their legitimate scope -I obviously do not mean "torture" when I say "play with the cat", though he may disagree on some occasions. ;)

But none of those things make me confront darkness per se. While an argument can be made of how the internal darkness of my soul may be revealed through those actions, they still do not merit any special mention for the very commonality and ease of their practice.

But if I saved a friend's life, bought food for a starving family with my last bit of money, walked a vicious dog away from a little girl, painted a widow's dilapidated house, played with a runt kitten and gave it a new home or helped a stroke victim shop for clothes in a confusing department store, then you might commend me. You may call those actions "heroic" or just "good Christian behavior". In either case, my energy was used for the benefit of another, and I would be pleased by your praise.

Yet none of that behavior would be possible if we did not live in a Fallen world. A world that stomps on the weak, the poor and the needy.

So the poor need an Advocate. The weak need a Protector. The lost need a Guide. The proud do not admit to such needs. They scorn the weaker, the lesser, the naive. They "eat them for lunch" and "clean their clock."

We need heroes. We need helpers. We need people of integrity who think of others.

But there is a price.

Mortal heroes need help too. They must admit their Needs (note the capital "N" - this is to separate it from their wants or desires.) They must go to the One who will love them as the world attacks them.

Or quit.

What Kills Heroism
"Compassion fatigue" is the latest term. Its when everyone is draining resources and not supplying anything in return. You run out of compassion because you have been drained dry.

Its simple really: in Deep Sea diving, do you know how they plumb into the greatest depths of the ocean and not implode from the great forces crushing upon them (we are talking hundreds to thousands of pounds per square inch)?

By increasing the internal pressure of the bathysphere.

There are monsters in the deep who have never seen the light of day - nor could they survive such a journey. And to meet them, to see them or capture them, you must be well-protected and pressurized.

If not, they feast on you. Or what's left of you.

Why do heroes quit? I submit two reasons, one is convicting, the other is comforting.

1) They forgot where their strength comes from -and thus get beaten up and abused for their lack of wisdom in refreshing themselves.
2) They forgot they were chosen to be heroes. It is their true calling and identity. They are not "Normal". They never will be.

Amazing Spider-Man #50
"Spider-Man Quits!" - and we buy the issue saying it can't be!

And of course it can't. Because face it, True Believer, the Powers that Be decided Peter Parker, should be the Amazing Spider-man, not the other way round. In the practical world of business, we know it ain't possible, because Stan Lee and Marvel still had to sell comics, and make cash, and no kid in the world wants to read about the time Peter Parker went to get his clothes washed -unless its about him accidentally washing his Spider-Man uniform with his whites and getting them all pinkish!

In other words, we love Spider-man. 'Cause he's a cool, powerful, altruistic hero - who struggles like us! And the problem is, he's always fighting the bad guys.

That gets old after awhile. So, logically, he TRIES to quit.

But he can't. 'Cause Peter Parker is a hero. Whether he knows his calling or not.

It's too late for him to say no. He's been empowered and has a heart to protect and serve. He still remembers how he failed his Uncle Ben and refuses to go back to being that selfish child.

Heroes really don't want to quit. They just wish the fighting would end. But that's not in their control.

So they have to admit they need help. They also have to admit they are, no matter what, heroes.

And when Spider-man was asked issue after issue "Why are you doing this? Why are you risking your life?" He'd always reply:

"Might as well. Can't dance!"

I love that. Just love it.

He's saying "Look - it's my job. I really don't have anything else to do. And frankly, I can do it well. I can't pretend nothing's wrong. I did that before. It didn't work out so well."

And then he hides his fear with flippancy. Of course he's afraid. He ain't bulletproof, he's just fast. He can be killed doing this sort of thing.

You most certainly can have good without evil. But you can't have heroism.

And you can't have heroism without conquering fear.

It is written that "Perfect love casts out all fear." So heroes, listen up: let God love on you today. Let Him and His love conquer your fears.

I know a man who never quit and got killed because of it.

But in the next chapter, He got better. Much better.

So will you. So will you.

1 comment:

Resilient Hawk said...

Epicurean you say?

Ate here last night with my bride:
The Epicurean Hungarian Restaurant, complete with gypsy music.

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