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What is the Heroic Life?

When I started this blog it was to develop a way to live like the heroes, and then chronicle what happens when I go out and actually live that way.

The last year has been very instructional. With the help of my readers, my teachers and my own misadventures I have created the blueprint of a heroic lifestyle. But I’m not sure I’ve put it all together in one place before.

So, after all the tweaks, what does the Heroic Life look like?

To Be a Hero

I use a simple but very strict definition of heroism built on a great discussion with readers:

A hero is someone who takes extraordinary personal risk to help others, with no personal stake.

To be willing and able to fulfill this role is, obviously, important to the Heroic Life. However, it’s also important to remember that you can’t just sign up to be a hero. You could spend your whole life getting ready, and never have the opportunity to be heroic.

In other words, the goal of the Heroic Life is not to become a hero, because no one can control that. Instead, the goal is to live a lifestyle that makes you as ready for heroism as you can be. It’s about the way you live, not the end result. This lifestyle is itself a source of joy, whether you end up saving lives or not.

So how do you live a life that lends itself to the heroic?

The Four Core Beliefs

The heroic lifestyle starts on a foundation of four principles. They are:

  1. Everyone has a purpose in life. There is something you’re good at, that you love doing—something that gives your life meaning. Know what that thing is, and pursue it.
  2. To find your purpose, travel. Travel changes the mind and it also introduces you to exponentially more possibilities than staying put.
  3. Ideals, not rules. In the realm of morality, ideals are far more useful than rules. Rules are a poor substitute for a moral compass, and they don’t require critical thinking. So choose your values and stick by them.
  4. You can do amazing things. When you master an art you will be capable of things that seem supernatural. You can become so good at something, and so full of knowledge, that it’s uncanny.

Do these four principles resonate with you? It’s easy to read through them and nod your head. But liking the idea is not the same as living it. The most important element of the heroic life is taking action.

So how do you take this foundation and put it into action?

A Relentless Drive

I believe that the heroic mindset is, at its heart, a bottomless determination to develop and improve yourself to the highest degree possible. This presents itself in several ways:

  • A desire to learn as many new skills as possible
  • A desire to hone, refine and master the skills you already possess
  • A willingness to reflect on your personality, actions, and thoughts
  • A willingness to endure discomfort, uncertainty, and pain to pursue these things

Thus, the heroic mindset manifests as an eager willingness to seek out challenge. A person with this mindset does not shy away from things that are difficult or risky, at least not for that reason. They may try to minimize risk, but in the pursuit of new challenges (learning new skills, spiritual development, etc.) they will not let risk stop them.

This mindset can be cultivated. By willingly taking on personal challenges on a small scale you start to develop the reactive decision-making skills that you need to weather much bigger challenges.

Aside from the mindset, there are practical considerations. To travel you will need to either make money anywhere or travel for free. I’ll spare you my usual battery of links that show how parents, large families, and older folks can do this just as well as young single people. The point is, if you find yourself saying you can’t possibly do this…. you might be wrong. Finding a way to make it possible is, itself, one of the challenges the heroic mind gladly takes on.

But what if you just don’t want to do it?

Choices

The Heroic Life is not for everyone. This means different things depending on whether you’re in or out.

For people who have no interest in living the Heroic Life, it means that’s okay. In fact, I want to discourage people from living this lifestyle. It is a beautiful, fulfilling way of life—but it’s also hard, and scary.

For people who are excited about living the Heroic Life, it means you’re not better than anyone. The whole point of being heroic is to help and protect those who have difficulty helping or protecting themselves. Working daily to make yourself strong only deepens your duty to others. Many people won’t step up and take action for themselves but: the moment you find scorn for them is the moment you forsake heroism.

This leads me to a unifying principle of the Heroic Life:

The Heroic Life never sides with imperialism, oppression, or forced dominion.

Nothing counts as heroic if it violates this principle. Even if you live the rest of the Heroic Life to the letter, if it’s in service of forced dominion over others you will never be a hero.

That’s the blueprint as it stands. I want to talk about my long-term plans for this philosophy, and how it can work as a movement. But what do you think? Please tell me your thoughts: is this philosophy consistent? Does it make sense? Will it work? And is anyone besides me fired up to live it?

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36 thoughts on “What is the Heroic Life?

  1. I can think of a million ways to be heroic, learn new skills, live in discomfort, live up to very high moral standards…all while living in my community, raising a family. I see absolutely no reason why I need to travel the world to be heroic. Maybe the chances you find to be heroic in distant places are obligations that are opportunities for the hero to rise from with in their communities. Why does it require a white knight, with special skills to be there? If we all wait for that “hero” instead of finding the strength to do what is right in our own lives, our own places, there would be chaos..oh wait…there is chaos…Be a hero…stand where you are for what you believe. If you feel a need to travel, fine. But heros live all over.

    • Ann, I actually agree – heroes come from everywhere, and every community needs them. Lots of people do heroic things without traveling.

      Remember though that the point of this path is to maximize one’s readiness to be a hero. I believe traveling contributes more to that than staying in one community your whole life. The change in perspective that comes from traveling is tremendous. It’s a way of immersing yourself in the unexpected, even if it’s just a few years before returning to your home community. That’s why I feel it is so important.

      I wonder what you think of that?

  2. It makes me think of the saying “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I think you view being a hero as a destination, with a journey of preparation. That is your path. I think that being a hero is a journey, with all the preparation done as you live.

    • Ann, this has taken on more and more meaning for me. Increasingly I view heroism as an emergent quality that can never be fully achieved. Or perhaps, like enlightenment, can only be achieved in the most elusive cases – something we cannot plan for, only strive for.

      For the time being, I’m in your camp – heroism is a journey, not a destination.

  3. First off, I love to travel and have had the fortune to visit many places around the U.S. outside of my home in Ohio, and a few in Canada. So far.
    And I think your pilgrimage is proving to be a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    I don’t know that I would call my way of life “heroic” but I identify with your points. I think traveling can be good, but I am definitely a person who has very deep roots in my bioregion, and some of my favorite heros are those who have been defenders of their own bioregion, listening to the call of the land. I’m thinking of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder, who have defended their homes with words and actions.

    I see a lot of people leave my own hometown of Cincinnati to go off and live in some other part of the country, often the Pacific Northwest. They don’t like various aspects of the culture here, etc. But what happens when many of the talented people leave an area to go out where they think there are more people who are “like minded”? In that respect I think the people who work on building strong local culture are heros.

    But travel can certainly enrich a persons inner and outer life, especially when undertaken with sacred intent, as opposed to a kind of vacation where one is traveling to consume.

    All in all though, I think a hero is someone who works to push and expand their own boundaries so they may be of greater service to their communities and world.

    • Hi Justin. Thank you so much for your comment. It makes me wonder about the role of “returning home.” You said a hero is someone who works to push & expand their boundaries. Travel definitely does that, but for a local hero, or someone committed to their home community, that may mean the purpose of travel is to go learn before returning home to do something for the people they love.

      I don’t want to shoehorn travel into everything, but I can see how it would provide perspective & knowledge that’s hard to come by otherwise – that might help in serving one’s own home community,.

      What do you think?

  4. Beth says:

    You literally read my mind with your comment that this lifestyle is about readiness, because you can’t control which opportunities you might encounter. I was thinking just yesterday that I needed to ask you about that. So, thanks for clarifying!

    Ann and Justin’s comments do bring up something I often think about in regard to your path. I think the path you are developing is a beautiful and amazing one, and I agree with you that a traveling lifestyle gives one a unique chance to push your boundaries, prepare for the unexpected, etc. I also have to admit that I don’t necessarily think that’s the only way to do the kind of thing you are talking about. One of the things I like about your approach is that you’re the first person I’ve talked to who had realized, as I did a few years ago, that doing things that scare you is an amazing tool for personal and spiritual growth. I strive to do that a lot in my life. Sometimes it’s through travel, but I don’t believe that I am called to travel for long periods, for a variety of reasons. More often than not, it’s in my “regular” life – the feelings I feel and the relationships I have on a day-to-day basis. But I don’t think that necessarily means I am any less committed to pushing my boundaries or helping others; it just means that while you will LOVE traveling long-term, I would hate it. It wouldn’t fit me.

    It actually reminds me of the sermon we had at church yesterday, in which our priest asked: what would it mean to our lives if we woke up every single day, every move we made, and committed ourselves to allowing our lives to be changed by God’s redemptive love? And I should add that in my church that doesn’t necessarily mean anything about what you believe about Jesus. It means that we believe that God loves in a crazy, radical, reckless, blow-the-doors open kind of way, and that kind of love can reclaim things that were broken. You may not agree with this, and I’m not trying to be syncretic, but I think that my priest was inviting us to a similar approach to yours, though within a different faith context. She was inviting us to be radically open to seeing the opportunities for our lives to be changed by love, and thus for us to change the lives of those around us by sending that same love out into the world. At different points in one’s life, that can mean a chance to allow your own wounds to be healed, forcing yourself to do something you are afraid to do, or realizing that you are called to help or love a person whom you had never considered helping or loving.

    I guess my main point is that your path is hard and scary…but I believe a person can live out the values of doing hard and scary things even if they don’t choose to do it in this particular, travel-focused way. That doesn’t take away from the idea that your path may help lots of people to do this; but perhaps it’s not the only way for people to try to improve the world using similar values.

  5. I have to agree with the comments made so far. I’m too rooted in by bioregion and local community to want to travel long-term. I want to take mini trips now and then (hope to go to France for 2 – 3 months once settled in my new virtual job and have saved some money), but even there I will be fairly rooted as I have no desire to be travelling from place to place. I have passions I want to hone and don’t want to leave my teachers for too long (belly dance, yoga, and my garden!) but would travel to sharpen those skills.

    I love what you are trying to do and that’s why I follow you. I’ve always loved stories of adventure and bravery and I think it’s great that you are following your dreams. You seem like a fascinating person! I think a lot of what you are doing and the lessons you are learning are still applicable to someone like me.

    (P.S. Thanks for the sword fighting info. For some reason it didn’t occur to me to look for online videos. I will have to learn a sword fighting belly dance piece!).

    • Hi Grace,
      This is my first time reading this blog, but I will likely continue doing so. I’d like to share a perspective from my own life on the topic of travelling.
      I recently came to a realization in my own life, here in Oakland: if I pretend that I’m traveling, I will behave as if I am, and I have experiences as if I am. What is traveling, really, but taking oneself out of the day to day in order to have experiences that are otherwise impossible, or at least improbable.
      When I’m traveling, I talk with people I would have ignored, I stop and breath in beautiful vistas I would have walked past, I hang out with the street musician in the metro station and she plays my favorite song.
      All of these kinds of experiences can be had in your hometown, if only one holds onto the idea: pretend that you’re traveling.
      My two cents.

      • Ryan says:

        Drew, thanks for this amazing and inspiritational blog. And Mescribe, thanks for your brilliant post. I completely agree: traveling is a state of mind, an embracing of spontaneity, a willingness to explore and love everyone and everything you meet: strangers on the street, in a cafe, in the park, street musicians, homeless people, even trees and flowers and cities.

        I also think your post Mescribe helps demonstrate another point I want to try to make.

        Drew, I wonder if the discussion you had with “C Luke Mula” points to a dark side in the metaphor of the hero. Everything has many sides, so this is nothing new. But I think if you take the metaphor of the hero so seriously that you think in order to become a hero, society must confer that status upon you, then I wonder if seeking heroism is in part another kind of status-seeking.

        For me the operant metaphor is not becoming a hero but giving action to love. This is what I find in Mescribe’s vision of traveling: as a mindset of spontaneous love, which is given to all and which expects nothing in return. Isn’t the hero ultimately the one who gives his love not only to himself or to the special few he chooses, but to everyone, to society, to the world itself?

        All this said, for me the positive side of the metaphor of the hero is that it emphasizes action even in the face of fear and pain and difficulty. Even love has a dark side, which I think is that it sometimes lacks aggression, forcefulness, pushing. But that sacred aggression is so beautifully captured in the idea of the hero undergoing pain and challenge and sacrifice.

        All that is to say, I think a hero is someone who works hard to expand his or her boundaries in order to love ever more and varied peoples and things.

        • Hi Ryan! Very good point. I don’t think anyone should try to become a hero and I certainly don’t have that as a goal myself. People often say I am on a quest to become a hero but that gets it wrong. I’m inspired by the great heroes and I seek only to live that example, to journey freely and seek challenge, and live for my ideals.

          As soon as someone decides they are a hero, they’ve pretty much given up being heroic. It’s a receding point.

          In other words, it’s emergent.

  6. As you know, I’m a huge fan and supporter of the Heroic Life. However…

    The one beef I’ve had from the beginning with how you’re communicating it is this: you keep saying that this path will maximize your potential for becoming a hero.

    Even if this is somewhat true, the problem with saying it like this is that it communicates that your number one priority in the Heroic Life is to become a hero, when that really isn’t the case. Your actual priority is standing up for others, making tough decisions, and creating a story with your life. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s great. It just won’t maximize your opportunities for heroism.

    Because the focus isn’t on the goal of heroism, you’ll naturally end up making suboptimal decisions towards that end. Making suboptimal decisions is what generates enough tension for great stories, but it definitely doesn’t help to push you towards heroism.

    Other than that: yes, I like it all, and I think it’s developing into quite a religion.

    • Hi Luke, I really appreciate this level of feedback. This is a real thinker.

      My first thought is that you tend to be a hard liner that a philosophy must have a single goal: either it’s about becoming a hero, or it’s about the experience of the lifestyle. I am not a hard liner on that issue. I think it’s perfectly fine if the Heroic Life both cultivates a specific lifestyle, which is fulfilling in its own right, and sets a goal of becoming as ready as possible to be a hero. I don’t see those two things as conflicting with one another.

      I’d also point out that you say, “your number one priority [is not] to become a hero… Your actual priority is standing up for others, making tough decisions, and creating a story with your life…” But I’d standing up for others (even when it’s a tough decision) = being heroic.

      However I am very curious about your reasoning here. When you say that focusing on heroism will lead to “suboptimal decisions,” what sorts of decisions do you mean? Can you give an example?

      • Quick question before I respond to your other points: if you consider standing up for others to be heroic, then why did you insist that what you did in the French Quarter the other night wasn’t heroic?

        • There are several reasons. The big ones are that (a) I am not sure I made a long-term difference (they still went home together, he’ll likely do the same thing again) and (b) I believe there may have been other, better courses of action I could have taken instead.

          That’ll be the topic of tomorrow’s post, actually.

          • Okay, then you still object to calling what you did the other night “heroic,” even though it was an instance of standing up for someone else. So how can you say this:

            But I’d standing up for others (even when it’s a tough decision) = being heroic.

            That doesn’t seem to jive. So I still stand by my claim that the Heroic Life isn’t about becoming a hero. Standing up for others is a driving force in the Heroic Life, not a specific, clearly laid out goal. And we’ve actually had this conversation before.

            One of the first examples you gave to me to explain the Heroic Life was comparing it to a book on starting a business. You soon dropped the comparison, though, because a book on starting a business is designed to help the reader accomplish and bring about a specific, clear effect in the world: that of starting a business. Will the entrepreneur be taken on a journey and have an experience in doing so? Of course. Will he have to make tough choices in doing so? It’s extremely likely. But these aren’t the point. They’re just side-effects of starting a business, and they’re only there to support that clear, specific goal.

            In your practice of the Heroic Life so far, though, standing up for others has been a driving force that has specifically supported guiding you to tough choices. Have you become a hero as a result of those choices yet? Nope. Will you ever become a hero? Maybe. Hopefully. But the real reason to follow this path is not to accomplish a goal; it’s to be driven by standing up for others, to make tough choices, and to see what happens.

            During our talk at Cafe Maspero, you told me that a sense of accomplishment just doesn’t really do it for you. What you really want out of the Heroic Life is a sense of consequence. You want to look back on your life and see that you carved a path for yourself, and that even if your decisions were good or bad, they were all your decisions. Yes, your’e working on developing in a certain direction: to better stand up for others. But it’s not a singular focus. And that’s why you can’t make optimal decisions towards the end of heroism: you’re distracted by your own sense of free will and responsibility.

            If you were driving towards the goal of heroism, your choices would essentially be made for you; living it out would just be a matter of strategizing and deciding how much risk to take on certain actions.

            With all of that said…

            If you allow others into the Heroic Life who want to practice it with a focus on the goal of heroism, either they’ll have to tweak it or you’ll need to tweak it for them. And, since it is a completely different mindset, it will probably be very difficult to practice it with them. Think of a Catholic who is simply living life in response to Jesus’ death and resurrection versus one who is living life with the goal of making it to heaven. Even if they often make similar decisions, their mindsets are so totally different that they’d find it hard to practice with each other on anything other than a very shallow level.

            Now, it certainly is possible to tweak and build this kind of stuff into the Heroic Life. I just am pointing out that it’s there and will need to be done if you really want to go that route.

            Okay, that was a lot. Let me know if I need to clarify anything or if I’m just not making sense.

            • I consider the example of what happened in New Orleans somewhat irrelevant: it isn’t an example of me standing up for someone and not considering that heroic, it’s an example of me failing to (adequately) stand up for someone. If I had to grade my standing-up-ness that night I would give it roughly a D-. As I said, that will be covered in an upcoming post, so I’ll set it aside for now.

              That point notwithstanding, you seem to be conflating two different ideas. You wrote, “So I still stand by my claim that the Heroic Life isn’t about becoming a hero.” You are correct. It is, however, about maximizing one’s readiness to become a hero. To maybe put that more clearly, it’s about maximizing one’s readiness to act heroically.

              The reason it’s not about becoming a hero is simply because no one can control whether they become a hero. In the absence of that, one can only do whatever is possible to live as close to the ideals of a hero as possible and behave heroically.

              This is why I see the Heroic Life as harmoniously combining a goal (be ready to act heroically) and a lifestyle (the behaviors and ideals that train you to act heroically).

              I feel that this is given some support by the academic literature on the psychology of heroism. In “The Banality of Heroism,” Philip Zimbardo and Zeno Franco examine what causes some people to act heroically and others not to. They suggest that a “heroic imagination” is one of the key factors that prompts someone to choose heroic action. They point to three sources of this “heroic imagination” – how heroes are imagined in epic stories; a mental state of readiness and anticipation to act heroically should the chance arise; and a vision of a better society that can realistically be brought about. In their subsequent work, they have shown that case studies of recognized heroes bear out the influence of this “heroic imagination” being present before acting heroically, and leading to the person’s heroic choice.

              I see the Heroic Life as a lifestyle, then, that is designed to instill the heroic imagination and, on a deep level, prepare its adherents to act heroically when the time comes. Since the lifestyle feeds into the readiness to take heroic action, I see the lifestyle and the end result as inseparable.

              • I want to state from the get-go that I really like the wording of “it’s about maximizing one’s readiness to act heroically.” I think that completely solves the issue I was having with your previous wording.

                However…

                I just had an “Aha” moment about our disagreement, and I realize now that it’s something of a philosophical disagreement. Here’s the statement I want to point out: “no one can control whether they become a hero.”

                The first point I want to raise about this statement is that it seems to be an assumption that the Heroic Life makes. Maybe you’ve justified this statement elsewhere and I just haven’t read your justification for it (if this is the case, please let me know), but as of now it seems to me to simply be a strongly held belief. Even if it happens to be true, if it hasn’t been tangibly tested, it is still only a belief. Again, if you have justification for this statement, this section is irrelevant (though I would like to see the justification).

                My second point stands regardless of how justified that statement is. You see, to someone with the existential goal of heroism, your “no one can control their opportunities” statement would basically seem like a cop-out. Even if it is extremely difficult to actively seek out opportunities for heroism, it would be unthinkable to someone with this existential goal to not do whatever it took to increase their chances of heroism, and as a result they would most likely actively seek out strangers to take great personal risk in helping.

                Again, the wording of the first statement I quoted takes care of all of these issues communication-wise as far as I’m concerned. And it’s not that I have a problem philosophically with the Heroic Life as it stands. For all I know, the belief that opportunities are out of anyone’s control might be necessary to this path. I just want to point out where you may run into issues in the future with people who are wanting to practice the Heroic Life while taking a different creative approach than you do.

                • I think that in its ultimate form, followers of the Heroic Life would go to areas of conflict where they are most needed. However, bear in mind too that almost everywhere you go, there is some kind of suffering. People may not need to seek out strangers to find a way to help others….

                  In the end, perhaps the willigness to take risk for someone counts, even if you never end up having to do it.

  7. Beth says:

    OK, point of clarification, which may or may not be vaguely related to the discussion with Luke above: I seem to recall another discussion (on Facebook or some such, probably) in which you said that as soon as someone claims the title of hero, they’ve given up the title. How does that attitude fit in? I think you were getting at the issue of being prideful, but how do you think about which acts to call “heroic” if that is true? Can you ever call any of them heroic? I’m curious to hear how you think about that.

    • That is a really good point Beth. The title of “hero” is a socially conferred title. That means you can’t call yourself a hero, only others can decide if you are one. As an individual, you may never have the opportunity to act heroically; if you get the opportunity, you may fail; and if you succeed, you may not be recognized by others as a hero. Thus, anyone who is after the title “hero” is in the wrong business.

      However, it is possible to understand what kind of decisions and actions are taken by the people who we call heroes, and be ready to make the same kinds of decisions if given the opportunity. That is something an individual can control and choose for themselves. That is why I mean by “readiness to act heroically” and, ultimately, “the Heroic Life.”

  8. By the way, many thanks to Ann, Beth and Grace for your comments on travel. I am holding off on saying much because I am reflecting on my motivations for why I feel travel is so important. Is it just because of my own love of travel, or is it truly important to designing the Heroic Life?

    The one thing I will say is that I totally agree: travel is not a required precondition for heroism and many heroes never travel at all. The reason I have been including it here is because I am trying to develop practices that train people more toward heroic action. A big part of that is learning to step outside your comfort zone. While many people do intentionally step outside their comfort zone in their own home town, many try not to. When traveling you have no choice – you will be outside your comfort zone.

    That’s why I’ve included it so far.

  9. Lots of good points written here and I don’t know how I could add to the conversation! I see how this is all coming together and am I still wrapping my mind around it.

    If I go by what you listed above, and I am already doing everything you mentioned, and yet I follow a spiritual path/religious tradition that already includes those guidelines/ideals, then could I be considered part of the Life you described? I don’t mean to throw doubt onto what you have been tweaking here because I consider you and what you’re doing inspirational, yet I have to speak up and tell you that those same ideals are those taught in Witchcraft. But after Witchcraft went all mainstream, becoming very homogenized by pop culture, somewhere along the way people no longer step up to the challenges and discipline of the teachings. They want the glamour and hocus pocus. They don’t want to put themselves into harm’s way or work hard to hone their skills and develop their talents. Hence why the Witch’s path is not one for everyone, but it is one for those who are SERIOUS.

    Maybe, just maybe, the goal isn’t to be a Hero in the grand sense of the epics, but to live a spiritual path where one seeks to be like the Hero, to be serious, disciplined, virtuous, and ready for action and self sacrifice for the right cause? Or, correct me if this is wrong, is creating a Heroic Life also mean creating just the opposite? Doesn’t the Hero need his/her damsels in distress in order to be heroic? Or does saving the damsel only further do harm to the damsel in the long run? The damsel is subservient, conditioned by society and controlled by her man (the dragon or monster who has her in his grip) to wait for rescue. She cannot believe she has any power of her own. Furthermore, she believes all men are dragons! Even the man, the Hero, who fights her dragon for her, may also be another dragon in disguise. Will she also submit to him and start the process of female subjugation all over again? If the Hero wants to really save women, he should volunteer at women’s crisis centers, perhaps take up a few courses on how to counsel women to help them discover their own strength so they can save their own lives? Perhaps that is what a true hero is supposed to do? Perhaps this is why your experience in New Orleans disappointed you?

    My father, a WWII and Korean Vet (you’ve met the guy) always told me that the real heroes never claim to be heroes and that war vets often scoff at being called heroes, in fact they don’t even want to be heroes. “The real heroes are dead!” He claims, “Anyone else who tells you they’re a hero is a liar and a risk to other people. There are two types of people who get other people killed in this world: pranksters and self-proclaimed heroes!” He likes to go on and tell me stories about the times guys in the war who played jokes got their come-upping’s for not taking anything seriously and causing accidents. He then tells me that the ones who want to be heroes often get men killed on the battlefield because they’re the ones who rush into danger without truly assessing the situation, becoming an unnecessary risk and end up getting killed, or getting others killed who go after him to save his butt.

    My suggestion is to talk to some war vets. They have the best stories and the worst ones, too. Even the bravest of them suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a syndrome that even ordinary people can get if they have survived scary circumstances or have been through some close calls. Also listen to women. If you’re a feminist you’re already a good man and have the potential to be a hero, but just remember, to make a lasting difference in a battered woman’s life, you have to get her to believe in her own strength and discover that she has the power to be her own Heroine!

    I know this was long. But this post, and the one you wrote on Social Bravery, has weighed heavy on my mind all day and night. All of this is very important, Drew. Gods bless you. I’m not just your buddy, I’m your fan, too.

    • Hi Val, thank you for the suggestion to talk to war vets. I haven’t spent nearly enough time doing that, partly because I have been so focused on the example of mythical heroes rather than our present day war heroes. I think I will make a point of talking to more vets and getting their perspective.

      You ask several good questions. I’ll try to answer:

      1) Are people in other spiritual paths living the Heroic Life? I’m sure some are, and I’m sure some atheists are too. However I have yet to see a religion that focuses its efforts primarily on a heroic lifestyle. For many religions, being heroic is a sort of high ideal that is put up on a pedestal, rather than something that all the members are encouraged to do.

      2) Do heroes need people in distress? I’ve always viewed this as a false question. When people say “you can’t have good without evil,” they’ve got it backwards. There will always be strife and suffering in the world. You will always have a few people making selfish choices. That is a given. The real question is, since you know you’re going to run into some evil, who’s willing to stand up to it and do good?

      I hope this helps clarify.

  10. Susie says:

    Mr. Jacobs,

    It is my deeply sad duty to report the passing of my father Jack. His death has caught has all, especially our dear mother, his wife, by tremendous surprise and with great sadness.

    We ask that those who knew him respect his last wishes as stated in his will, “Don’t remember me after I’m gone with silly ceremonies or long speeches about my greatness. I’m only one man with one heart, I can’t live forever, but your lives are just beginning. Live them well and that will be enough for my spirit to rest easy.”

    He passed away from an apparent stroke this afternoon (Wednesday November 9th, 2011). He died smiling, holding our mother’s hand.

    Our father left a note on his desk “for one Rogue Priest Drew, my young friend”, “If you’re reading this it means I’m with my brother and the rest of my ancestors. Don’t be sad though, nobody lives forever, at least not in this life. I want you to know that I’m proud to have been your friend, you’re a true hero, something I could never hope to be. When you embark upon your adventure to meet the Gods may the wind be at your back. I’m confident you’ll find them smiling, waiting to welcome you. Your friend, Jack”

    We are all deeply distraught our father’s passing. Our lives will never be the same without him and we thank you for showing him friendship.

    Peace be with you and blessing upon your journey.

    Susie, Jack’s daughter

    • Susie, I read this today and it hit me like a rock. I am so sorry for your loss. I will respect his wishes and spare you a long speech. I’ll just say that, although I hardly knew him, his spirit and attitude became a source of inspiration for me. I’m deeply moved that he left me that message and please know that I will do my best to live my life well as he asked.

      If you, Nora, or anyone else in the family want to get in touch please feel welcome to email me at drew@roguepriest.net. Thank you again for telling me. May you be blessed.

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