Roots: Orientation

An exploration of the interplay between identity & orientation.

Sexuality is a complex, personal thing.

We have many concepts to describe it and varying aspects of orientation.

People tend to have incredibly deep, personal feelings tied to their understanding of their own sexuality/orientation and thus project those feelings on to others when semantic interplay takes place between those terms as we intermingle in society.

This is an especially complex, personal matter when it comes to interplay with transgender people.

For us, traditional ways of thinking about our concepts of orientation just don’t fit. No matter how hard you try to shove us into whatever box you might like to shove us into, we just don’t fit.

I’m personally fed up with extremist views on anything to do with the whole semantic argument that springs forth from this complex interplay.

Everyone has it wrong.

Let me explain the conflict as I see it. One group believes that sexuality is tied irrevocably to chromosomal sex. Another believes that sexuality is tied irrevocably to gender identity. A third believes that sexuality is tied irrevocably to phenotype/secondary-sex characteristics. A fourth believes it’s tied irrevocably to genitalia. And there are many varying degrees of belief in between, with huge amounts of conflict between each and every one.

Simply in reading that description, I hope you begin to get a picture of the myriad of ways people perceive constitutes orientation.

Extremists in every grouping assign absolute truth values to their way of understanding these words and it’s causing a cacophony of conflict which, in my view, is almost completely unnecessary as one will realize if they step back and detach their beliefs and emotions from the conflict.

Once, I believed that orientation was tied to identity. That sexuality was like a light switch turning on/off on the basis of identity. If a man were dating a man and one of them transitioned, each would become straight or the relationship could never work.

I was wrong to think that way, and I see many people in the world today making the same mistakes, or even worse mistakes. It’s deeply frustrating for me.

This exact conflict manifests in other areas too, such as family/community life and it’s such a great and unnecessary burden for all people to be carrying as I see it.

To explain, let me talk about one of my favorite films. “Normal” (which is also a play by the same name, but I’ve only seen the film) it is about a trans woman who transitions late in life after marrying a woman and having two children. As you might imagine, it’s an incredibly complex and emotional affair.

There’s a great deal of conflict over identity represented in the film as each family/community member struggles with coming to terms with what her transition means for them. And of course the audience is part of the experience too. We are also challenged to consider what these conflicts mean to us as well.

Sexuality is never explicitly discussed in the film, but what would you make of that if you were these characters? Put yourself into the shoes of the trans woman’s wife. Consider all the emotion; the attachment to decades of knowing someone, and knowing yourself through them suddenly in flux. What does that do to you? Does it change you too?

One has to wonder how a woman who’s mothered two children and carries this mountain of emotion could ever manage to find balance again. And sadly, many real people in situations like this don’t. It can truly cause families and relationships to fall apart. Transitioning truly can wreak havoc on your circumstances as you change and adapt to reality and reality adapts to you.

But balance is possible to find. I’ll be spoiling the film here, so skip this section if you’d like to see it for yourself.

Things work out for the family in spite of *many* awkward challenges. They hold themselves together by respecting one another and giving each other space to adapt and grow together. We see them all, slowly but surely come to terms with one another and themselves. Several years of transition are shown as the main character transitions. Her wife struggles deeply, but in the end maintains love for a woman who she still sees as her husband in spite of her new identity. Her kids struggle too, but in the end find a similar happy balance in their dad becoming a woman. Nothing else changes or has to change, it may be confusing to other people but it works for them and that’s all that matters.

At the end of the film they are depicted happily sharing in mundane conflicts, two women, a husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter. It’s a very happy ending for them. Perhaps it wouldn’t be for you, but it is for them.

What that balance looks like is again, a deeply complex, personal, emotional affair. What would you be if your partner transitioned? What would your parent be to you if they transitioned? What if how you saw them hurt them? Would you change for them? I could go on and on with the questions, but the point is to paint a picture of how utterly challenging and personal it all is.

It’s far too much so for any one ideology to ever wrap itself around. People have been forming cults/religions centered around their beliefs of the absolute “Truth” about their understandings of the answers to these questions and again I maintain, everyone is wrong.

But also I’d say, everyone is right.

Every ideology has a little piece of the truth and all would assign absolute truth values to it, but they’re all wrong to do so even though their truth is indeed truth. My deepest wish is that everyone might stop trying to shove theirs down the throats of others.

Because, let me tell you.. I’ve known straight women, lesbians, and straight/gay men alike who have all dated trans women. Every one of these configurations has made perfect sense to me, because I see the full complexity of the trans experience and I know that none of it is black and white. I know how complex and personal it is. I do not judge any of them for how they understand themselves, and I believe that doing so is a truly horrible thing for anyone to do for any reason.

Orientation, be it sexual orientation or familial orientation, is a deeply complex and personal interplay between external and internal realities. I’m sure I sound like a broken record at this point, so I’ll reveal now that’s the truth I’ve been trying to sell you on all along; a broader way to look at the realities of the transgender experience.

When we see it this way, we begin to wonder, what exactly has everyone on social media been so angrily arguing about for decades now? Trans people are just people living out their lives, seeking balance for themselves and their families. Happiness and self-content are about all that most any of us want. We want to feel right with ourselves and find balance between ourselves and the world.

It’s difficult enough to do that without all these wild ideas interceding as ideologues attempt to shove their views down your throat every day. Why everyone is so obsessed with this is beyond me. Your obsession really shows us more about you than it does anyone else. Why are you so obsessed with controlling language? Who made you the arbiter of others realities?

For me, orientation and the descriptors thereof constitute inviolable personal boundaries for me. These boundaries, like all boundaries, are no one else’s to control. This should be a non-issue but it seems to constitute about 90% of the arguments over orientation on social media. It’s all very pointless if only we respect each other’s boundaries.

What does have a point, the 10% of conversation around this, comes from anxiety over what all of this complexity means when it comes to sharing spaces with one another. Those are concerns I do understand. To those I’d ask everyone to give some thought.

Would a trans only space be okay to create? I think most of my trans siblings would agree yes. But would a cis only space? I think most might react very differently. If separate spaces are okay to create, then also we should ask why are they necessary? What is their utility? There’s a lot of complex, productive conversation we can have have around this, but it’s counterproductive and often dehumanizing to focus in on challenging one’s personal boundaries and understanding of themselves.

Personally, neither of the segregated space possibilities bothers me as long as the point of the space is just for people with similar preferences to come together and isn’t for gathering into separate tribes and commiserate in hatred of the group that’s not welcome. All I’d say in either case that matters is that the preference is well-advertised so that no one steps on anyone else’s toes.

Most spaces, I’d hope would be advertising themselves as all-inclusive. I see the need for separate spaces in many instances but I don’t at all believe this separation should be all-encompassing as some people seem to believe.

At any rate, moving forward I hope we’ll see a lot more discussion around respect for one another in these areas. Productive conversation; that sees all the nuance of the broader reality we all occupy together. We need to get out of these black and white conflicts over orientation and break free into colorful conversation on how to best find mutual respect for each other’s boundaries and strike a balance together in society that leaves no one in the margins.

We’re all integral characters to this story we call society together, let’s start acting like it and build our way to happy endings.

Someone

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.

We are all Dysphoria

Trapped together alone

Forever in atonement

For what we only know

They say my body is me

Searching for a soul

Lost on the highways

Plowing through our homes

At once, we are ancients

Of tales untold before

Greatness unbecoming

For one such a bore;

With selves who’re not

And selves whoever are

Afraid to be becoming

Hopelessly bound to bars;

Imprisoned by reality

With billions of dying selves,

Locked in loops eternally,

Just bodies shedding cells

As cages of emotion

Hold on to every one

In lost minds wondering,

Who could Euphoria become?

No One

A helpful and compassionate poem.

Erase me, baby..

I need to be gone,

Define me out of here

Don’t let it take long

Say it never happened

Break me before it’s real

Shove it down my throat

You can take it from here..

Project yourself into me

Take what you know is yours

Every word that describes me

Those are words you need more;

Control is all your’s, daddy..

We all know what it’s like too

When you lose it, don’t worry,

No one will be here for you.

Astral Projection

“Youth without youth, born without time, youth without youth, can you read my mind?”

Why do we look to the stars,

When we could look to ourselves,

For answers unringed from our furtive bells?

Externally valid in our navigating–

Our selves stay at home, hidden awaiting,

Bodies in spaces where no one is screaming,

We cling to Orion’s belt, foiled and seething;

Desperate, we seek our forsaken divine,

Lost to the ebb and flowing of time.

Until at last we fall from this grace,

Embalmed with dirt masking a face–

Self-service eroded by forward procedure,

We’ll keep looking on, when no one is here;

Burnt away in life’s fortune and flames,

Wandering hollow with forgotten names,

We’ll look to the stars reflected in the mere,

Without ever knowing we’ve always been there.

Realitea

“..where stars make dreams, and dreams make stars.”

Nothing’s harder to fix

Than broken people,

Fallen from beginnings yearning–

Never together in the first place,

But always fools will be cunning

As others are shamed for our shortcomings

And those awful, awe filled memories

Drunken in certain flaw filled teas;

But what do we do without

Maps to our properties?

When trauma roots itself in

How do we repair the lonely

One never known beyond

“Me, me, me,” in spite of you

And “You, you, you” in spite of you

We pour our hearts out in spite of you

As we project our spite of ourselves

Look up there on the silver screen

Touched with your light as it plays the scene

Of failures fixed on fermented fruits

Wrapped in lies we can’t stop growing

With every ticket sold at the booth.

Overgrowth

“We are, I am, you are, by cowardice or courage, the one who find our way back to this scene carrying a knife, a camera, a book of myths, in which our names do not appear.”

– Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck

Here’s another Garden

Another Well lying, unfalsifiably deep,

Overflowing.. Trickling drops roll

Down the mossy cobblestone

Absorbed whence they came,

Back, into the dark ground

Refreshing dying weeds,

Brambles, and that single

Gnarled tree, still fruitless.

What happened here?

I wonder, as the Well erupts

Some invisible force propels me

To the brink, to drink, drink, drink,

Absorbed whence I came, refreshing

Dying gods and monsters, black arms

Drawing me back into the dark.

All the answers are here, I’m certain

If only I dive deeply enough,

I might find the source, and link it

Might I bring it back to my Garden,

The one that isn’t dead, the one

That little girl frolicked freely through,

Unconcerned with evaporation,

The one never neglected, never decayed;

No overgrown invaders deeply rooted

Into impassable walls of thorns..

Choking, gasping toxic air, I find myself

In another Garden, but not the Garden;

Not the one left behind, nor sought,

Under another sky, some new place

Where the Well still lingers,

Consuming time, space, and matter

What is my purpose? It erupts again,

With it, memories of that day she climbed,

Reached for the fruit, and fell

Fingers clenched to that bell-shaped prize.

Back again, I feel the impact of the fall

But not the fruit it was worth..

Sorrow without joy; Doubt without

Certainty; A woman without fruit

In a Garden without life, drowning

Wishing for death, if only for the weeds..

I tear at them furiously, every root pulled

Leaves behind seeds for a hopeless future

Without space to grow, but I keep going

I stop looking to the Well for answers,

And work, though I know not what I do,

A Garden becomes a Wasteland,

Just dirt, the Well, the tree, and me

Where I carve these words, humbly

And offer my fruit to the tree.

Lying Lights

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

Electric glow

Burning on,

It’s no longer dark

Before any dawn,

Take me out too

To these worlds beyond

Where nobody’s hollow,

Where we can all belong,

Where we’ll all follow,

Twisted and shaped:

With certainty swallowed

Through troughs of our hate.

Confirm us, absorb us

Oh Light, won’t you turn us?

Lift us out of this hell

And make us, not spurn us?

When you ring the voltaic bell–

Will it fill us with certainty?

Not doubt, not sorrow,

But safety and security?

We’ll make believe in you

If you show us a way to be

And we’ll dance together

Lost lovers in empathy

Gone, like evening suns

Sorrowful, lonesome, afraid

When these lying lights go out

And truth finds us in the shade.

Ode on a Tree Disserved

“Oh, but a tree, but a tree..”

Look at this tree,

Beautiful and serene,

Perfect, but for the way

It’s bent to serve me

Crimson leaves so ready

To take in this moment

Weathered by the oncoming storm..

Our being here obscures its majesty

Our attempt to capture it is a disservice

These words are but a fool’s claim on glory

For a tree so perfectly defiant

Stood, in stark contrast

To storms ever encroaching..

Imagine if we were to remove ourselves from it:

Were it allowed to stand for itself,

It would stand. Were it allowed

To speak for itself, it would speak.

Were it allowed to sing its glory,

It would sing, but as it stands

It falls to me, where I tarry with enormity

Braying “Oh, but a tree, but a tree..”

Paving the Way

“By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.” Proverbs 25:15

Best intentions, bear us go

Lead us up from down below

Where hollow lies hide hollow lives

In Heavenly woes and spiritual demise,

Pave roads out as we pave them in

We’ll meet in the middle, to sin again.

For should I lie when I should break,

I pray forbearance my tongue to take

For the sovereign thumb we’re living under

Could only be moved by broken bone–

So up we go, with the best intentions

Climbing up, we bay, “We’ll end this!”

But in the end, we’ll fail like the rest

Living our lives in ignorant bliss

As hard tongues betray selfish hearts

And the Prince presses us to our place.

RE: Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church

By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.

Megan Phelps-Roper’s new book Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church is an elegant masterpiece of non-fiction that exposes the truth of the WBC through humanization, offering us all a lesson in compassion & humanity the whole world desperately needs today.

In this literary review, we’re going to explore Phelps-Roper’s narrative through the critical lens of Joseph Campbell’s theory of the Hero’s Journey.

Literature nerds will already be familiar with Campbell’s work, but for anyone who isn’t, here’s a brief synopsis. Essentially, the Hero’s Journey is a pattern our story structures follow in which a hero receives a call to action to leave their “ordinary world”, generally refuses, but is ultimately forced to venture out into a “special world” i.e. a far off land ruled by an evil overlord, where the hero must quest, overcome trials, and defeat the story’s antagonist. Perhaps the best example to imagine is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but we can find this same pattern echoing in practically all of our stories, and yes even in our daily lives.

There is no better way way to prove we carry out this pattern in the real world than through analyzing non-fiction through the lens of the Hero’s Journey.

There’s something very interesting about Phelps-Roper’s narrative in Unfollow that inspired me to tie it to Campbell’s work. For Phelps-Roper, the antagonist isn’t in the special world. It is inside herself and the church she left behind in the “ordinary world” and thus, while her story very much follows the Hero’s Journey pattern, it does so whilst turning the structure of the pattern on its head.

It’s typical in our tales for our heroes to venture out to protect the status quo of the ordinary world. Perhaps a strange illness falls over the hero’s village and they’re called to action to venture out to challenge the source of the illness or find and return with a cure.

However, in Phelps-Roper’s tale, the status quo is itself the antagonist. There are certainly challenges and trials that await her out in the special world, but the antagonizing forces which threaten the ordinary world exist back and home, left behind in her wake as she leaves the church.

Reading Unfollow, I found myself deeply impressed by the compassionate quality of Phelps-Roper’s prose. Even though this review is likely to rebuke the church and the Phelps-Roper family for their antagonistic qualities, Phelps-Roper herself does no such thing. She has only kind and loving things to say about her family, the church, and its teaching, and that’s a huge part of what makes this book so powerful.

It begins with her childhood, where we see the young Megan and her siblings indoctrinated and bent to the will of her grandfather’s, certainty. She shows us how, surrounded by certainty, in an environment free from questions and doubt, the whole of the Westboro Baptist Church came to believe as they believe, in the literal, infallible truth of specifically the King James version of The Bible.

They are told there are two types of people in the world per the story of Jacob and Esau. Jacobs, who have God’s favor and are predestined for heaven, and Esaus, godless, hopeless, immoral beings bound for hell.

It’s difficult to describe the ideological trap they fell into and I certainly can’t do it justice in this review, but Phelps-Roper certainly does in her prose, but I can say, with ironic certainty, that certainty was the trigger mechanism. Through a lens of absolute, unquestioning certainty, they knew that they were right, and their enemies who questioned and antagonized them were wrong. God was on their side, and how can the infallible Word of God be wrong?

They truly believed that homosexuals were damned and would spend eternity in hell. They saw society’s acceptance of them as a celebration of their damnation and believed that only they truly loved them as the ones who were working to change their ways and save their souls.

A little known fact about Fred Phelps, Megan’s grandfather is that before he became the leader of Westboro, he was a lawyer who took on civil rights cases fighting for the equal rights of black people in a time when practically no one else was willing to come to their defense. He used the same logic to challenge the status quo then that he would later use to derive the church’s most well-known slogans, “God Hates Fags,” believing absolutely that The Bible vindicated both his support of black people and his condemnation of homosexuality.

Knowing this, it becomes easy to see how Westboro would feel vindicated by antagonism against them. They were once on the right side of history and experienced similar antagonism for challenging the status quo at both points in history. Challenges from outgroups only strengthened their resolve and reinforced their beliefs, especially when those challenges turned violent.

Eventually, Fred Phelps who believed he would never die as he would live to see Jesus return, met health issues, and on top of them, legal and financial issues, which forced him to relinquish power over the church to a council of elders. It’s only at this point in the story when the young Megan begins to doubt Westboro’s infallible certainty.

Her doubts were her call to action, beginning the Hero’s Journey cycle.

After seeing the council’s abominable treatment of women in their debasement of both her mother and sister and catching them in the act of willfully lying for political gains, she began asking questions. At first, they were questions kept to herself. Secret doubts that she buried away as she began the next phase of the Hero’s Journey: Refusal. The idea of her beloved family and church being wrong was too much to bear, and she was trapped between an ideological rock and a hard place.

Either the church was right, and she was bound for hell like Esau, doomed for an eternity without God, or the church, and everything she had ever known and loved, was horribly. horribly wrong and had done unforgivable harm to the world.

The nagging questions and doubts were too much and like all who walk the Hero’s Journey and refuse the call to action, she reached a point where she could no longer refuse and began asking those burning questions, both internally to her family and church members, as well as externally to connections she’d made via Twitter and other social media.

This led her to the last phase in the ordinary world (though sometimes this can come in the special world) meeting the mentor. Typically this mentor figure will be the one to actually give the call to action. Think Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, but in this case, the mentor was a simple, kind, and cautious guide who called himself simply C.G.. Her relationship with C.G. began as a friendship, grew into a mentorship, and eventually would blossom into a romance. Phelps-Roper writes extensively about C.G.’s behavior and why his approach was so effective.

He didn’t antagonize her like the outsiders she was used to. He was friendly and compassionate from the very beginning. He only wanted to be a friend and to listen and learn. In doing so, Megan was transformed. C.G. didn’t see her as the monster others saw. He saw the flawed human being underneath and through his humble actions, she began to see the same, not only in herself, but in others like C.G. who occupied the special world. He never rebuked her and refused to fill her head with any ideas of his own making. Instead, he encouraged her to follow her heart and see where it led.

It was only a matter of time before she could no longer refuse the call. She, together with her sister Grace who had also fallen out of favor with the church, crossed the threshold into the special world together left Westboro.

There, she would embark on a quest for truth, seeking answers for her still-burning questions. She would face trials, befriend allies, and overcome enemies. The interest in this review lies primarily with our analysis of the nature of those enemies. If you want to experience the whole of the adventure and not miss out on all the fun parts, I highly recommend reading the book.

Those “enemies” faced by Phelps-Roper in the special world were internal. They were the demons she had inherited through her upbringing in the church and her own unaccounted for flaws. When you’re brought up to not doubt anything and to believe that your way of thinking is infallible, you’re bound to lack key survival skills and tend to be very shortsighted with regard to your own flaws.

Phelps-Roper writes, “I started to understand that doubt was the point—that it was the most basic shift in how I experienced the world. Doubt was nothing more than epistemological humility: a deep and practical awareness that outside our sphere of knowledge there existed information and experiences that might show our position to be in error.”

This concept epistemological humility, was foreign to me upon first reading Unfollow but it’s a powerful concept that I wish I had understood long, long ago. If I had, it might have helped me face some of my own enemies. Basically, practicing epistemological humility means never being afraid to say, “I don’t know,” and “We might be wrong.” It is humbling your flawed nature before the immensity of the universe and realizing the truth that certainty is nothing but a comforting trap for fallible minds.

Phelps-Roper continues, “Certainty is the opposite: it hampers inquiry and hinders growth. It teaches us to ignore evidence that contradicts our ideas, and encourages us to defend our position at all costs, even as it reveals itself as indefensible. Certainty sees compromise as weak, hypocritical, evil, suppressing empathy and allowing us to justify inflicting horrible pain on others.”

When we lie to ourselves and to others to claim to be certain of unknowable truths, such as the nature or will of God, we fall into a destructive pattern that follows the behaviors Phelps-Roper describes above. If this pattern is followed to its logical conclusion, it leads to not only damaging the one carrying those flawed ideas, but also to become a destructive force in the world around them. It can lead one to unquestioningly participating in deplorable acts such as picketing funerals with “God Hates Fags” signs or praying for God’s wrath to fall on your enemies.

As human beings, we are hard-wired for certainty. It’s in our nature. When lost in the woods, if we see a rock shaped like a bear, our brains automatically put us on guard and we will naturally assume that said bear-shaped rock is certainly an actual bear and we will prepare to defend ourselves accordingly. If we did not have that natural sense of certainty, even when we are wrong, we’d have long ago wandered into many a bear’s jaws.

Doubt, on the other hand is nurtured. It is a skill we have to learn through continuously mistaking rocks for bears or worse, bears for rocks! But when we’re denied doubt, as Megan was, the consequences can be disastrous.

Imagine if an individual operated on pure, unabashed certainty when spotting that bear-shaped rock. They might maintain such a powerful degree of certainty that they would be paralyzed by the experience. They might never grow the courage to cross the woods for fear that the bear, which they were certain was there, would eat them. They might turn back and the food found on the other side would never make it back to their family. They might fail in their Hero’s Journey and starve. Such is the consequence of absolute certainty.

The skill of constructive doubting is the reward Phelps-Roper garnered through her ordeals in the special world. It’s the One Ring. The Master Sword. The Holy Grail. The Scepter of Domination. The Artifact. The Aegis. The Genie’s Lamp. The Book of Prophecy. The Elder Wand.

Phelps-Roper writes, “In this environment, there is a growing insistence that opposing views must be silenced, whether by the powers of government, the self-regulation of social media companies, or the self-censorship of individuals. At the heart of this insistence lie several false assumptions, including a sentiment that Westboro members would readily recognize: We have nothing to learn from these people.”

Westboro’s flawed but certain human nature led them to paint many a false picture of reality, but none quite so damaging as the above. The idea that we should ever put our certainty above our need for compassion and communication is akin to holding our certainty that bear-shaped rock will eat us above our family’s need for food.

Thus, it was time for the final phase of the Hero’s Journey. The return to the ordinary world. However, unlike most heroes, this one never set out to protect/restore the ordinary world’s status quo. For Phelps-Roper, the status quo is not something to be protected and/or restored, but transformed. In fact, I’m sure if we asked her, she would say that the special world she’d entered into transformed into the ordinary world around her as she herself transformed through raising doubt above certainty.

Now, she must embark on a whole new Hero’s Journey. The journey home– back into the old status quo, equipped with the elixir to turn the status quo on its head and transform it.

That story may yet remain largely unwritten, but the ending of this one offers glimpses of what’s to come with Megan returning home to face her dying grandfather, only to find that he had already transformed on his own without her. What follows is one of the most touching scenes I’ve ever read in non-fiction, but I wouldn’t dare spoil it here.

In closing, Phelps-Roper leaves us with another touching scene in which she and her sister purchase ad space outside Westboro to communicate a message that only their family left on the inside would understand, “Goldbugs forever,” and a solemn hope for a transformative future.

We all like to believe that if we were drawn or born into an extreme ideology, we would be like Megan. We would have the courage and good sense to criticize the wrongdoing around us and rise above our own flawed nature to challenge and transform a harmful status quo, but the truth is most of us wouldn’t.

We wander beaten paths, following in the footsteps of many. We are content with our safety in numbers, certain it’s US who are right in our ordinary world, and THEM who are wrong in their special world.

I’d like to leave you with a reflection on the current tribalistic state of the world. The impulse to collapse under the weight of our own certainty and conform into a paradigm of “Us” versus “Them” are stronger than ever.

It’s a terrifying, uncertain world out there, and those who beckon, “Come join us. We are certain. We are safe. They have nothing to offer,” are becoming easier and easier to follow into certain hell.

But if we pay attention to the world around us and listen for our calls to action, we all can walk our own Hero’s Journey. We can develop new skills. We can unearth new artifacts. We can change the status quo. We can make the special world ordinary, or the ordinary world special.

This is how we change minds.

This is how we become heroes.

This is how we save the world.