Hero’s Journey

Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.” – Bob Riley

I thought my last post was going to be my last post, but alas, here I am again.  I can’t say why I am doing this – I certainly realize that it would take a genuine miracle for some no-named, no-experienced, know-nothing man like me to positively change the world.  At times I still ask, what am I doing anyway?  But in asking myself that very question, I’ve realized something… I like hoping for a miracle, it gives me hope.  That’s why I do this blog.  I’m not expecting to change the world, but I do like feeling that I’m doing my small part.  If this process helps enlighten only one man, even if it is only myself, than it can’t be said to be worthless.  And who can be sure, maybe it will actually affect more than one person, maybe it will start some constructive dialogue that gets our nation back on track.  In any case America, that’s where I am today.  I’m in a good place, thinking maybe Lloyd wasn’t so “dumb” after all…

So you’re saying there’s a chance.” – Lloyd, Dumb and Dumber

Or maybe he was… and so am I.  But I don’t blog because I like talking, and it’s not because I actually think that I can change the world, believe me, I don’t – I know that only We can do that.  But it’s because, in some strange way I can’t quite describe, I feel like I am at least trying to be the good Hero… with the healthy disposition that in the end it isn’t up to me, I figure I can at least share an idea of a better America.  I don’t know if my ideas are Dumb’s or Dumber’s, but I did start writing them down.  And I’m trying to do better than either.  I added a page last week, my “New Deal 3” summary.  Like all things, it’s a work in progress.

An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied.” – Arnold H. Glasow

For me, the “score” in this video game called Life is not calculated by what you accomplish, only on what you tried to accomplish and how you set out to accomplish it.  The score is only calculated on who you set out to be this morning, and thanks be to God, the score resets every morning.  As for me, descending into the depths of politics, charging into Hades armed only with my will, my reason, and a computer – this is how I try to release my inner Hero.  I understand my passions are not everyone’s, and after wading only a short time in the mess we call politics I certainly can see why, but I also believe that we all have an inner “Hero” in us – yes, I still have faith that we are all good at heart.

“I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.” – Thomas Jefferson

For yours truly, trying to be a Hero in this crazy political world simply means trying to actually create an opinion, as opposed to relying on the ones I’ve been given…  Trying to “do good” simply means trying to develop and share a good opinion.  This is where I doubt myself sometimes, and this is where the doubt should occur, as it motivates me to read.  Although I’m ignorant, at least I know that I am… and no longer wish to be.  It’s why we must read and study with an open mind – the hero must have his sword and shield, his sling and stone, his knowledge and reason, if he is to ever slay the political beast.

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” – Thomas Jefferson

The only way one does good is by looking for the truth so as to discover the way – that’s the “hero’s journey” in my opinion.  It’s messy and thankless I know.  I was talking with a friend of mine this week who said he made his hero’s political journey a while ago, and he aptly described it like this:  “The problem with looking for answers is that you find them.  And, like peeling away the layers of the onion, the more you discover, the more it stinks.”  He is certainly a wiser man than I.

The only good is knowledge, and the only evil is ignorance.” – Herodotus

I suppose I’d rather stink than be ignorant, rather be a fool than pretend not to be, rather play and lose than not play at all.  Perhaps that will change one day, perhaps I’ll wisen up, but not today… give me the onion, I want to pull off another layer.  I’ve been reading the book “Currency Wars” this week – I would recommend it to any other ignoramus, like yours truly, that wants to begin navigating through all the garbage, sifting through it for what salvageable things might remain, and hoping to answer the question, how would you rebuild this great nation?  How should we rebuild the us?

I know, I know, it’s insane to try, right?  We have been told as much since we were children: “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.”  But does that really mean that we shouldn’t try, that we should live in the wise acceptance of hopelessness, that we should no longer even ask the questions?  No, I refuse to live that way.  At least for today, I will choose to live with an ounce of hope remaining – my soul and my country demand that I at least ask the questions.   So my friends, let’s ask ourself:  If miracles could happen, if we could put Humpty Dumpty together again, if we could do it not by using the king’s horses nor the king’s men but by using our minds… if We the People realized one day that we actually were in charge, what would We do?

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” – Thomas Jefferson

Yeah, Thomas Jefferson is one of my “Heroes” – FDR and of course Washington as well.  I just discovered them not that long ago, and they have some amazing things to say.

The “Heroes quest,” some might call it the “Meaning of Life,” is simply this – trying to do the right thing at this moment… despite the world of madness around you.  Living life as if, with the clean slate of time beginning at this very moment, you alone were tasked to try to do the right thing.  The hero’s quest is where you stop and say, “Ok.  I’m not afraid of the evil dragon.  I’ll do the right thing.  At least, I’ll try to, hopeless as it may seem.  Hmm… I wonder what the right thing is… Ok, well, for better or worse, here I go.”  And that happens one small step at a time, sometimes 2 steps forward 1 step back, over and over again…

Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” – Thomas Jefferson

Although I’m not so vain as to consider myself a hero, I am an American, and a person, like you.  And Life in this political world sure seems to me like the hero’s journey… do you feel that too?  The world seems surreal to me, particularly when I look at our political discourse and the TV.  Fox, MSNBC, Reality shows, Opinion shows, Judge shows, Headlines, 30 second TV where we try to shout over the top of each other for 28 of them, conflicts around the globe… no one hearing a thing over all the racket.  $15 trillion in debt, thousand thousand million dollar deficits, wars, unemployment, gridlock, corruption, negative ad campaigns, government ineffectiveness, political maneuvering.. all the while, with the future of our very children at stake.  I don’t know, to me it just seems too Hollywood to actually be happening.  What a mess it is, this surreal world of politics.

Somebody asked me about the current choice we’re being given in the presidential election. I said, Well, it’s like two of the scariest movies I can imagine.” – Dean Koontz

The political world is the world of madness, the Hell, run by some god called Hades, Lucifer, or the Devil, with the “system” his tool.  It is a complex labyrinth so deep that only a Hero can penetrate it.  The health of our nation is the “damsel in distress”, the most treasured prize, the seemingly impossible goal.  And this blog allows me to play the freshman, the young squire, the kid from the Lorax movie… the protagonist.  The one ignorant fool who is too stupid to know any better, and starts pursuing his ‘”crazy” notions of trying to discover a better world.  Contrary to all established logic and accepted reason, he actually tries to change the “hell” that surrounds him.

All that’s necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

The hero is that loony who decides to try to find out the truth, the guy who says “Uh… does anyone else know that the Emperor doesn’t have any clothes on?”, that “crazy” guy who overcomes his fear enough to talk plainly, combat ignorance, reveal the truth — that’s the hero.   I guess I kind of feel that by blogging with you, not that I have many followers I know – but I suppose it is my chance to pretend to be a hero, even when I’m not one.  Thank you for humoring me on my “quest.”  Perhaps one day you’ll even help me to learn something.

A hero is a man who does what he can.” – Romain Rolland

When I tried to “do good,” when I actually started looking at our nation, at just how broken she was, and envisioning her like a fair maiden caught in the grasp of a Dragon’s talon and gasping for air…  when I saw the world from that perspective, and then when I stopped and asked myself, wait a minute, now seriously for a second, “What should America be doing anyway?”  I had to honestly answer “I have no idea.”  And that’s when I set out to try to create a good opinion… I set out to actually try to answer the question.

Doubt, the essential preliminary of all improvement and discovery, must accompany the stages of man’s onward progress. The faculty of doubting and questioning, without which those of comparison and judgment would be useless, is itself a divine prerogative of the reason.” – Albert Pike

It’s those Lean Six Sigma / CPI courses and projects I’m sure of it, or maybe I’m just a stubborn boy.  But when I try to answer a question, I approach it like the cop Friday from the old days who says, “Just the facts ma’am.”  The first step of a Lean Six Sigma project, the first step to real process improvement of any kind, is to admit that you already don’t have the best answer in place.  The second step, after admitting that you’re not already right, is admitting that you are also not necessarily that smart about it all.  It is in the second step where you doubt your current path, question everything, and go look for the Truth.  Then the third step of course, is to act on what you find, get past your doubts and act.  And then we start over at Step 1 — that’s why we call it Continuous Process Improvement.

When I try to look into our political system, it’s really hard for me not to see it as a “Hero’s Journey.”  Nowhere else in this world is the “madness” around us so apparent as it is in the political arena we have today.  Nowhere else is it this unmistakable.  Like a 40′ Cyclops, a “Titan,” an Elephant in the room so to speak, we can’t miss the beast in front of us.  And you have a choice, we all have a choice, do we dare confront the beast?  Should we choose to become a part of the chaos, work “within the system,” agree that the “unbeatable” beast will destroy us, and then work to maximize the pleasures of life, best we can, until he comes?  Is admitting defeat early the wise choice?  Or should we try to confront it, see if we can rise above it, do the right thing despite the system, and fight the insane evil beast head on?

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.” – 1 Samuel 17:50

All the comic book heroes tell the same story.  All the Greek demigods, great people of old, all religions tell the Hero’s Journey.  That is what unites us all as One – the desire to be good, to do good, to see good done in this world.  We are good, but we have been thrust into a broken system which, it seems at every turn, is out to stymie us.  The Hero is the one who presses on regardless, who perseveres… that’s the Hero’s Journey.

Here’s to all you Heroes out there.  Whatever your political opinion, if you formed it through reasonable, skeptical, and honest evaluation of data and results, I sincerely salute you.  I’m still working on mine, hopefully I will be until the end of my days.

Yours in Faith.

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