Harness the power of your imagination, through myth & legend, heroes & icons, learn the roots from which we come and grow to understand your place in the world.
It is often said that we are born with unique cognitive abilities, which we later develop into knowledge and skill sets. Some are born with language as a bias, others… problem solving skills. But, one thing is certain: the same lucid images that manifest in our minds eye, the lucid images we know as dreams, tell us all… different things.
In later adolescence with the already inherent capability to formulate words we begin to string them together to aid in better communication of our thoughts and ideas. Sentences are formed, as if out of thin air, and take shape to formulate larger more grandeur ideas. On this set path there can be only one end in sight… stories.
Stories are the cornerstone of all human development and growth.
From as long as man can remember, stories have been shaping the way we do things and the way we carry ourselves, with the first documented proof of story-telling coming in the form of a printed tablet, carved onto stone in around 700BC. Known as the, “Epic of Gilgamesh,” the stone tablet acted as the first means of entertainment, and was distributed all across Mesopotamia and other parts of Asia and Europe.
The purpose of story-telling is to persuade, inform and entertain. With the earliest forms of story-telling(e.g. Epic of Gigamesh) being used to teach these values by means of informing or entertaining the youth from respective communities. From village elders, to church leaders, and even rulers of entire cities etc, they would propagate these channels of knowledge and wisdom to their young.
Today story-telling is translated into action through books, movies and video games with its core beliefs being slightly altered to encompass a different set of virtues. These values, indoctrinated by institution, are preserve, honor and educate. With these key directives, as well as with a common understanding of moral values and codes of conduct in place, these virtues can and will continue to shine through for years to come.
What we must come to understand is that in the course of growth and human development, from each individual to the communities of whom come together to forge and build these democracies, a midst these endearments, learning does come first. We cannot exceed our mandate and must for the time being discovery should take precedence.
The most common forms of stories, which incite and inform are the Greek Myths. From comedy to tragedy, the classics all have something to teach us, and they speak mostly of proper etiquette and a means by which to be respected as the adults that we are to become. To be upstanding young citizens is the goal of this practice.
As previously mentioned, church-goers begin their young adult lives adhering to a common law… the Holy bible. With other forms of organized religion we would also be corresponding to the same set of rules, a commonality to all religions is implied here, with stories as the crux of what we choose to believe, from other religious text or otherwise, we in effect, begin to exercise our rights through our respective faiths.
With all organized religion there is but one common ground by which we choose to exercise these rights. It was the famous American Professor of Literature, from Sarah Lawrence College that began his private study into comparative myth and comparative religion, and more often than not conclude with one very specific statement — there is a commonality to all story-telling was his decisive victory.
To draw upon a classic story and its heroes, pitted against another, with a deity as a frame of reference for comparison is called comparative thinking and comparative myth and/or comparative religion.
Joseph Campbell discusses his theory of the journey of the archetypal hero in his work, “Hero with a thousand faces,” and resolves his hypotheses, saying that without a common ground by which to compare our heroes & icons, myths & legends there can be no clear end in sight. The figure head he chose to compare ages-old myths, legends and heroes is Jesus Christ, “the one true king and the only God,” became the standard for morality, humanity and anything of the like.
Matching a Greek legend in Achilles to a modern day champion, by Joseph Campbell’s standard, would also not be too far a reach, “For who is the greater warrior, Achilles of Greek Myth or Luke Skywalker of the Star Wars franchise?”
Like all stories and discussions there must always be a purpose behind what we are attempting to achieve. Comparative thinking may be a good means of communicating ideas such as the one stipulated above, and does in fact offer us a set of guidelines to best interpret these stories, but again the true call of the hero from the working class gentleman to the corporate high hat, we all serve a purpose and add to the big picture we call life. It is this commonality by which we grow and understand these questions and answers that keeps us informed and together on issues the world over.