The hazards of heroism
Heroism had its hazards: teaching a boy to kill and then expecting him to kill only to protea; instruaing him to kill males, but not females or children. The tragedy of the warrior is that the more he fights the enemy, the more he begias to be like the enemy; the more he kills beasts, the more he becomes like a beast. (The myth of the Centaur – half man and half beast – symbolizes the resultant male schizophrenia.)
A parable from the Cherokee describes these hazards beautifully.18
Chief of the Pond
Once upon a time there was a gentle pond abundant with God’s creatures: fish, snakes, and frogs. All day these creatures did as they pleased. In the pond was a log. The creatures thought of the log as their shelter, a podium for food, almost a chief of the pond. One day, though, an elegant heron with long legs poised its graceful body upon the pond’s edge. All the creatures took its arrival as a sign that they were meant to be led to greater things. The held a powwow. They agreed that the log did nothing but sleep all day. So, they proudly eleaed the elegant heron their chief. Within a week or two, the heron had eaten all the fish, all the snakes, and all the frogs.
When females ask males to protea them with their strength, the risk is having the very strength that protects them in one instance to be used against them in another. Thus the athletes for whom females cheer are also
involved in one third of campus sexual assaults.19 On a broader level, when people allow kings divine rights, the upside is the potential for greater protection; the downside, the potential for greater misuse. When individuals empower their drugs, religions, kings, or males, they risk being disempowered. The log, by doing nothing, forced the creatures to take responsibility. The temptation in choosing a hero is to relinquish responsibility – to blame the hero, the patriarchy, the politician. But ultimately it was the creatures who had the power. They rejected the log – or self- responsibility – and they opted for the hero… for the heron. Just as genius walks a thin line with destructiveness, so heroism walks a thin line with both the destruction of others and self-destruction.
Don’t leaders often manipulate their way into power? Yes. And people manipulate their leaders by choosing leaders who tell them what they want to hear. The Aryans were willing to make someone chancellor in exchange for being told they weren’t doing as well as the Jews because the Jews were oppressing them. A young man named Adolf spoke to the Aryan fear of taking personal responsibility’. He was soon rewarded. If the pay is good enough, the prostitute will appear.