The Hero of Our Stories

I realize it's only January, but I believe that Paul Maxwell's article "Let's Stay" may just be the best article I'll read all year. Maxwell gets at the heart of the problems plaguing young men in our society: 
"We want to be the heroes of our own stories, and of the stories of others. For men in the twenty-first century -- a time when heroism is measured by popularity and admiration, quantified publicly by social-media followers -- going viral is perceived as a more meaningful success than becoming virtuous; we gladly choose the fame that succeeds over the faith that needs."

But when that kind of fame and success is unattainable, the consequences are shattering: "The higher we climb this ladder -- the deeper our devotion grows to this myth about being the beloved hero -- the more devastating the consequences of failure. The more visceral and soul-destroying the consequences of remaining unrecognized."

That is when, Maxwell writes, men need to realize that they were never meant to be the hero of their own stories. They were made for something better -- to be satisfied by the real Hero of the story.

Please read this important article, and pass it along to any man you know who's struggling.


What was not mentioned was that at an extreme point it doesn't just make people suicidal, it makes them murderous. Every petty band of Brutal Ideologues With Absurdly Pompous Names grabs these kind of people who want to be part of something.
I don't know any man who is struggling but me, I am not planning on committing suicide as that would require me to convert to Shintoism to do it in proper style and that is a bit of a bother, and it would be rude to ask someone else if they are struggling with such a thing so I cannot know anyone else.

Much of the problem is the world we live in. It is just nice enough to leave one useless without being nice enough to be heaven. The challenges are mundane bourgeois challenges that one cannot brag about overcoming but one can feel darn bad if one doesn't. Seventy five years ago one at least had the chance of being a Victor Lazlo(one had the chance of being the couriers that were once nobody and now the honored dead too). Two hundred years ago one could be a clipper captain or a New England poet. Nowadays it seems America has gotten to the top of the hill and the view is more dreary then it seems from the pov of someone still climbing. If I could simply have an interesting career or form a family of my own it would be worth it, but I don't have either.

A lot of the problem is that there is little room for men because America and the West in general really is not a very manly place anymore. Once all the oceans are crossed, mountains climbed, deserts and jungles explored, towers and railways built and enemies defeated what is there to do today except tread water for a few generations until the next wave of savages wrecks the whole thing and leaves the survivors to start again? Maybe that is why "escapism" is so much fun. There are so many things to escape from and one of them is the paradoxical dreariness of a nice world that does not need you.

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