We celebrate heroes—those that wear the cape, wield the sword and destroy the one ring—but how many heroes start the story eager for a trip to Mt. Doom?
That’s where we are now. As of tonight, the United States has more COVID-19 cases than any other country. We are, once again, world leaders. We’re number one in a race we don’t want to be in.
But this is how a hero journey begins. The hero always starts the journey full of apprehension. If he/she wasn’t scared, there couldn’t be heroics.
Often, they even try to get out of the responsibility. With made up excuses, they ignore their conscience and let petty nature act in their stead. Can you blame them? Who wants to visit the Death Star?
But there is always a moment that divides a hero and a supporting character. The hero faces fear in order to do the right thing… eventually. The supporting character—the one we forget about by the last page— averts their eyes, pretends to be asleep and doesn’t answer the call. Who wants to be the forgotten character?
It’s okay if we feel like we have few resources to deal with this. Not all heroes begin on a white horse. More often then not they start their journey from humble places. Eventually, they act with selfless bravery and become admirable—or they can’t be the hero.
So here we are, looking up at the coronavirus dragon sitting on the world, breathing pestilence on us all. Collectively, we are afraid. That’s reasonable. Some of us are in denial. Also okay. Who can blame you? Whatever your mindset, I hope you recognize the value of your future actions in this story.
As fear spreads, so do anger and hatred. Selfishness is the bane of humanity. Genetically, we depend on each other. We always have. Kindness, intelligence and sharing correct information are the only things that brought us out of the caves.
Now is the time each of us needs to reach deep into that evolved portion of our brain that understands higher math and find our hero. We must drag that hero—kicking, crying and screaming—into the forefront of our mind and make them take the wheel. They won’t want to. Make them anyway. We need all the heroes engaged.
I’m at the beginning of my hero story, like you, and I’m afraid. I hope to be unadventurous, simply writing posts like these and finishing my books. I want to be a quiet, safe hero. I recognize I may not get my wish, but I can hope.
What I do know is that if a tall wizard comes rapping and scratching the paint at my door, I hope I am selfless and brave enough to answer the call and do what’s needed. I do know I don’t want to be the forgotten support character, so I will try to be brave.
Heroes never want to be heroes. They just are because we need them to be. And like David Bowie said, “We can be heroes.”