There is a general pattern to the hero journey – the quest of the hero into unknown realms, the powers that he meets there and overcomes, the stages of his crisis of victory, and his return then, with some boon he has gained, for the founding of a city, religion, dynasty, or whatnot; or, on the other hand, his failure and destruction.
Where have all the heroes gone? Somehow it seems that there is a tremendous shortage of real life heroes in our world – the type of people who take risks for others, face danger, fight evil and most importantly, win! We yearn for someone or something to look up to and feel secure. The greatest motivator in the 21 st century is fear.
The most common headline tells us of the failure of some leader or celebrity who had brought hope to their followers. Perhaps that is the reason that Hollywood has a fascination with the “super hero,” hero’s so powerful that they can’t fall. Sadly, such people don’t exist. I truly wish they did. Life would be so much more pleasurable if we knew who to call for the challenges we face. Today it might be Green Lantern, tomorrow Spiderman, but at least we would have someone to call. Joseph, the mythologist, gives us a very good pattern for the journey of a hero.
Heroes are not born, but rather, they evolve. The journey of every hero indeed begins with a quest – a drive or vision that sends them out of their comfort zone. They are driven to be bigger, better, and at the same time, selfless and humble. Perhaps the reason we have a hero shortage is that we don’t value the things that make a hero. Our children are not taught to take risks, or to put others before themselves, rather they are taught to be cautious and self protecting. Campbell’s words give us a great pattern for a hero, and if we dare model them or teach them, the world could be a better place.