30
Nov
09

Hero Quest


Photo Credit - http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3617/3353085502_865451bd60.jpgWe pushed out through the classroom door; freedom, fun, and adventure beckoned us to hurry, less we squander any portion of our fifteen minute parole. When the trees had shed their leaves, the air blew crisp, but the school yard was still free from snow, the boys of Prince Charles Public School gambled their recess away. We paced off the necessary distance, then one at a time, flicked with force and finesse our treasured hockey cards towards the red brick wall of the school. The rules were simple, the card closes to the wall took all the rest. We cheered, jeered and argued after every round, particularly if one of your heroes had been captured by another boy’s better toss.

What now in retrospect seems like a rite of passage, is alien to my son. No one at his public school tosses hockey cards at the wall during recess. That childhood game of chance has disappeared, but not the hero-worship upon which the contest was built. That persists in the world of man, both young and old. Both sports and media traffic the idealized male, who is always bigger, braver, bolder, and brighter than us, the normal street-level man or kid. We buy this psychological dope, hoping that by participating in the hero’s super-sized life, we might possess what we lack in our own.

Truly this is a quick fix. Virtual heroes manufactured by media do not sustain us when we are confronted with real-life stress, conflict and failure. And men who have been air-brushed into heroes, sorely disappoint their followers when scandal collapses their inflated persona revealing the imperfections that once had been masked. True and persisting strength cannot be found by looking to a false hero.

Where then do we look as men struggling to be real, to be strong, to be brave? Where do you look?

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