Heroism, Spotlight

The Hero Round Table

I chase the path that the ancient heroes took. My journey is my way of entering the same mythic world, of choosing the great challenge. I know it will change me, I know it’s dangerous, but I keep going—because what else is it to be alive?

The journey is my way to seek heroism, but it’s only one way of many. There are countless people either seeking a heroism of their own, or working to teach others what it means to be heroic and to cultivate that social bravery in our world today.

What if they all got together?

That’s exactly what will happen this November. My friend Matt Langdon, who teaches kids how to be heroes, has arranged to bring together some of the leading minds on the topic of heroism today. It’s a two day summit that he calls the Hero Round Table.

Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Speaker at the Hero Round Table

The Hero Round Table is a cross-disciplinary conference on heroism in today’s world. Speakers will include leaders in education, psychology, philosophy, storytelling, and other backgrounds, with breakout sessions for open discussion. 

You don’t need to be a “professional” in any of these fields to attend—the conference is open to everyone with an interest in heroism. It exists to foster and encourage that interest by sharing perspectives, information and ideas.

The Speakers

Heading the conference will be Dr. Philip Zimbardo, the world famous social scientist whose work on the psychology of evil and the psychology of heroism has completely changed what we know about ethics. Dr. Zimbardo is the creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment and currently leads the Heroic Imagination Project.

Also lined up to speak at the conference are Zoe Weil, the legendary humane education advocate; Jocelyn Stevenson, a creator of Fraggle Rock and other children’s shows; Dr. Ari Kohen, who teaches heroism in the context of human rights and politics; and 15 others including a teenager who got frustrated with ineffective anti-bullying programs and went on to change his high school on his own.

Plus You and Me

And yes, if you haven’t guessed it, I’ll be speaking there as well. Matt has invited me to join the lineup and talk about the use of adventure as a transformative practice to cultivate heroism: why adventure works, how my journey has changed me, and how others can do the same. (I’ll be speaking via video link to avoid backtracking my journey.)

The Hero Round Table will be held November 9th and 10th in Swartz Creek, Michigan. Seating is strictly limited and I encourage all of you to grab tickets now, while you still can. There’s a chance I can snag a ticket for a giveaway, but don’t wait for it—if you would benefit from attending this conference, get a seat now!

Note there will also be a prize awarded to one project designed to create heroes in today’s world. Perhaps it will be yours?


Teaching kids how not to rape

Photo courtesy of Beard.

Photo courtesy of Beard.

This is an excerpt from an essay by Abby Norman.

Yesterday… someone in the back shot their hand up and did not wait for me to call on them. “Ms. Norman, this poem is about rape.” It wasn’t a question. It is rare for a fifteen-year-old to speak about anything with this kind of authority, let alone poetry. A few kids chimed in to agree with the first student and I admitted that I often read the poem that way, even if you don’t have to. I was about to launch into an explanation of other ways this poem could be read.

“Ms. Norman” another kid called, “Have you heard about that rape case in Ohio? Those guys got convicted. They have to go to jail. They are going to lose their scholarships. They were going to D-1 schools!”

“Well…”I responded, feeling the heat crawl up my neck, “maybe they are going to jail for rape because THEY ARE RAPISTS!”  [keep reading]

Abby Norman is a feminist and devout Christian. She runs the blog Accidental Devotional. I was really stunned by this article and by the way that she directed the conversation with her students. 

I hope you will read the rest and share your thoughts. 

Spotlight, Vodou

Is the age of the shamans dead?

This is an excerpt from a piece from a Vodou priest at Knitta Please

Working overnights are gruesome. People are different when the sun goes down. Forget phases of the moon, planetary alignments and stellar influences, people do in the dark what they wouldn’t normally do in the light of day. Without the sun to witness, as if the moon cared less, I’ve seen man, woman and child in the grips of one nighttime habit or other.  Usually, I’m pretty OK with what goes on. Usually, their glazed eyes and slurred words become a river of unconscious thought. Their babblings become a prophetic tongue, the science of decoding the pickled Pythias. 

Photo used without permission from Knitta Please.

This is how my story starts. Two young chaps come in from a night of tippling, sit down at my counter and start yelling. Working in a diner, overnight, this is common, and eyes aren’t batted at it.  I give them waters, if that could help, and take their order. Conversation changes between the two of them frequently, greased by the liquid excess pumping through their veins.

Then, as it always does in the small community I live in, they see someone they’d gone to school with. It’s-been-forever’s and It’s-good-to-see-you’s were exchanged and conversation between the two chaps stuck to that. Like two old men recounting their spent youths, these gumshoe yuppies blurted out a Schindler’s List of people they’d known, saw, fucked, or hung out with during their formative years. Then, because I was close enough to spy into their conversation, one asks me, “So, are you in school?”

The question seemed far out of understanding for me. Could they not see my age? Could they not see the transparent mortarboard hanging over my head?

As I looked up from my task at hand, I answered them, “Nope, I’ve actually already graduated.”

Next, inevitably, “So, why are you working here?”

To read the rest of the story click here. Yes, there are shamans.

From now on I’m going to publish the things I enjoy reading, so you can enjoy them too. I don’t believe in a full “reblog” because I want you to actually go to their site and learn to love them. You will always have to click over to get to the good stuff.

I don’t get reimbursed or compensated for this. I just like sharing what I love. 

I will still be publishing my own original work every Wednesday and, sometimes, more often. Now go read Knitta Please.