We Can Be Heroes: Some Thoughts in the Wake of #NationalSchoolWalkoutDay

We Can Be Heroes: Some Thoughts in the Wake of #NationalSchoolWalkoutDay March 15, 2018

Hello, beautiful creatures.

Yesterday, I watched as students across the land of my birth—including my own daughter—staged a nationwide walkout from their schools to protest our culture’s abject failure to protect them from gun violence.

Or, to put that another way, I watched as thousands upon thousands of children—some of them barely in double digits—took up their own power to defend themselves, because their parents and families and all the other adults around them didn’t, or couldn’t, or refused to.

Or, to put it yet another way, I watched as thousands and thousands of kids demonstrated a firmer grasp of the truths which lie at the heart of witchcraft than most witches I know, myself emphatically included.

What truths, you ask?

Simply this: we are the ones we’ve been waiting for, and we always have been.

One of the prevailing mythic narratives of Western culture in the past two millennia is “being rescued by the hero.” This narrative takes a lot of forms—the white knight leading a charge over the hill to save us, the savior who sacrifices his life for the good of all, and so on—but the unifying concept in all of them are that we need someone, some hero, to save us.

This narrative is, not to put too fine a point on it, deeply damaged, and deeply damaging. It suggests to us that we are powerless, and encourages us to wait to be saved. Laura Tempest Zakroff underscores this spectacularly well in her article, “We Are Aradia,” which I encourage you to read (along with the rest of her blog). In particular, I want to call your attention to this bit:

…we don’t need a savior, or one voice to save us. We need to save ourselves, we need to be the teachers. We need to be the learners and the guides. We need to be the Witches.

Or, if you want to get old-school about it, I can offer no more beautiful summation that Doreen Valiente’s conclusion to her “Charge of the Goddess”:

And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou know this mystery: that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.

That’s not to say there aren’t heroes in the world. On the contrary: in the right circumstances, in the right moment, any one of us can be a hero. The thing is, being a hero doesn’t mean being a handsome muscular dude, or dying on a cross, or riding a goddamn white charger. It means standing in your own power, as so many of our children did yesterday, in service to something greater than yourself. It means doing the difficult, necessary thing that only you can do, because you’re in the right place at the right time to do it. It can mean self-sacrifice in a moment of bravery, or in the day-to-day drudgery of putting food on the table and a roof over the head of small humans who depend on you, no middle-school theater-production dramatics required.

Here’s another truth: if any of us can be a hero, then any moment can be the right moment. Even if you don’t consider yourself a witch, a magician, or a hero, you’re still a human being… which, as I said in my very first post here at Patheos, makes you a worker of wonders. It also means you have both power and responsibility, as another hero’s story reminds us. We all have the power to change the world, for both good and ill, and what we do—or don’t do—with our power matters.

This isn’t hyperbole or metaphor. We live in a world on fire, and we cannot wait for a hero to save us. We have to save ourselves.

This isn’t a call to arms. We’re far too armed already. This is a call to hands for the building of new things, and to hearts for the healing of old wounds. This is a call to voices which have been silenced, and to ears for hearing the truths we desperately need to hear.

Over and above all else, this is a call to feet. Walk out of schools, march in the streets, kick out the fascists.

Stand up.

(Photo by Camila Damasio on Unsplash.)
If you’re confused about who you should stand up for, look to the disempowered, the disenfranchised, the marginalized. Look to those with the least power, those at the greatest risk of losing what little they have. Look to the children, who we should protect above all else, and see how they’ve learned to protect themselves, because we have failed to do so.

We already know what we should do, and we already have the courage within us to do it. All we need to do is stand up and take the first step.

Until next time, dear ones, be the witch-heroes you want to see in the world. ♥

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