The media commentary drums on honoring McCain and dissing Trump for his refusal to honor McCain. What’s going on? McCain has the nickname Maverick, which means someone who doesn’t run with the herd, who has the courage to be a unique individual. And Trump has always presented himself as the Maverick, the true American individual who doesn’t care about being politically correct, or morally correct for that matter. The McCain/Trump match is like a American wrestling match of heroes: Which one is the real hero?
What is the measure of the real hero? Humility, I would say.
In American mythology it is the rebellious son that is the true individual, not the obedient one. Disobedience is the first act of a unique individual. The paradox is that in American Religious mythology, obedience is the mark of the man of God.
So we have in our mythology the conflict of two contradictory commandments: Disobey/Obey…you must obey both commandments, but you can’t. The tension of this yin/yang dilemma creates our dynamic history as we struggle in vain to find the final synthesis of this pair of opposite commandments.
THE DEATH OF THE HEROIC MAN
We should be using the word Role Model when talking about McCain instead of Hero, but they are kind of the same. You are my hero means role model, someone I admire and aspire to be like. Our nation was created by strong unique individuals who dared to buck the ultimate God, the Empire of England and the King who ruled by divine right. The mythic foundation of American society is that each person is a unique individual endowed with Reason and the ability to buck the system. Even Steve Jobs creates the Apple Man who rebelled against the PC man, the intellectual robot, the IBM man.
The Heroic Man has the Sword of Discrimination that gives him the power to tell the difference between the Real and the Unreal, and to cleave fearlessly to the Real. This is a question of duty and to whom one owes ultimate allegiance: the outer light of authority or the inner light of conscience.
As the forces of tribalism—which is local authorities of party and religion—swirl like hurricanes in the warm media water, the Heroic Individual’s death is mourned. In American mythology it is this Heroic Individual that is our center—our reincarnated founding fathers—and when this center can’t hold because all our heroes are false prophets “mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. (Yeates)
Lets take a deeper look, peering with me and Joseph Campbell into the. mythological origins of the American Myth of the Hero. Campbell points out that European Pagan mythology was the worship of the unique individual, the Knight in shining armor of the Middle Ages, and the Grail Knight who quested for the Grail by following his natural instincts.
But the competing myth from the Levant (Middle East) was that of obedience to the authority of the Church/God, and that nature and man was fallen and could not be trusted. Trust in God says this myth. Trust in Man says the Pagan myth. And in America these two contradictory myths compete for our allegiance, but all unconsciously. Living myths, active myths are always unconscious because the fish cannot see the mythic fish bowl in which he swims.
So McCain is our Pagan Hero, and Trump, as far as Evangelicals are concerned, is a Religious Hero because he is bringing about in their mythology the Kingdom of the Church/God.
The idea of Hero implies sacrifice. The greatest hero then is one who sacrifices that which is most valuable, his/her life. Being President is a Heroic role because the human person must sacrifice his/her personal power in order to assume the role of the Office, which carries national power. One then, through that sacrifice of personal interests, becomes the Will of the Nation.
Trump never made that sacrifice. I didn’t reveal his taxes, kept his personal business in his control. All of Trumps woe is brought upon himself for his refusal of the Call to sacrifice, or to kill, at least for four years, his Ego. Under the ruse of making America great again, it’s all really about keeping Trump great again.
Buddhism is the Call of the Hero psychologically, the call to rebel against the attachment to form of my own mind, my thoughts, beliefs, opinions, which when seen are all attachments to the collective mind of society, our collective and individual memory that is past. And everyone has Buddha Nature, says the Buddha. Buddha action of SEEING directly is heroic action. The seeing itself is heroic action. In this Buddha Seeing, the heroic throne of the Ego, the last king of the mind, is overthrown.