The reluctant hero

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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Darwin
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Post by Darwin » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I've got a good friend who perfectly exemplifies the hero archetype that Campbell described as a reluctant hero. In the Moyers interviews he used the Harrison Ford character from the "Star Wars" trilogy.

This young man goes to great lengths to show the world that he is self-centered, that his every action is designed to promote his self interests.

But a recent injury that I have suffered has shown what I have long suspected--that my friend is one of the most generous, kind-hearted people I know. I suffered a fairly serious injury while motorcycle racing last month and will be house bound until January. I am fairly incapacitated for the time being. At first I had many visitors, and still get many, but the one person who has been most diligent at coming to my house and helping out is my supposedly selfish friend.

One day we were having a philosophical conversation and I started asking my friend hypothetical questions about what it would take to get him to risk his life to save someone else. For every situation I could create he found some way to help without endangering himself. For example, I said that if someone fell down a cliff I bet he would risk his life to climb down the cliff and rescue the person. He said he'd find a long stick and put it down for the person to climb up on. I said, "If I fell down a cliff, I'd want you to be the person there to help me."

He said, "Darwin, if you fell down a cliff, I'd look extra hard for a long stick." The fact is I am certain my friend would be the first to risk his life to help a total stranger. The fact that he won't admit this just makes his generous nature that much more appealing.

Anyone have experience with this type of reluctant hero?
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Clemsy
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Post by Clemsy » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Darwin, I'm sure I speak for all of us here at JCF in wishing you well. I hope you are as comfortable as may be, and have stack of good reading at your elbow.

Clemsy

Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
Darwin
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Post by Darwin » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks Clemsy. I'm doing all right. Oddly enough, this down time has freed me up from pursuing my passions and allowed me to get back to following my bliss.

I wrote this post in the middle of the night while waiting for the pain killers to kick in so I could get to sleep. I see it needs some editing.
Scarlett
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Post by Scarlett » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Darwin,

I think I might know someone who possesses qualities of a reluctant hero. He is (for lack of a better term) quite a smart A**. Always quick to see others faults and quick to point them out. He's quite a realist. However, becuase he often sees the world without rose colored glasses...he's very accepting of many different types of people.

He talks this and that...but he probably would be the first person to help them out if they needed it.

Hope you're feeling better :smile:

Scarlett
For all men live by truth and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Darwin
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Post by Darwin » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks Scarlett.

Your friend sounds like he represents the archetype I am describing. A mutual friend calls the guy I describe above "the spoon," because he's always stirring up the pot. My friend is definitely a smart a**, but he's also definitely smart, and most of his sarcasm is his playing devil's advocate rather than his being critical.

Anyone know any literary characters who fit this archetype?
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Post by Dave Spiro » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Darwin,
First, I hope you get better quickly, and with a minimum of pain. Keep the fridge well stock with beer, and the pain issue will take care of itself! :grin:

Second, I think the example you gave was very good. Your friend may truly be an archetypical reluctant hero, and as well, exemplifies what Schopenhauer (sp?) asks regarding how one person can participate in the danger of another. Even with a very long stick, your friend would still be participating in the other's danger, and somewhere deep inside of him, he realizes that he and the other person are one. While he may never admit something like that to himself, he doesn't need to.
"I have a very good understanding with God. I don't understand him, he doesn't understand me." - George Carlin
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