There have always been quiet heroes. There were those doctors who treated AIDs patients in the early days of that dreadful disease, when everyone was afraid to go anywhere near the infected. There were those freedom riders who sat at the front of the bus, knowing they would be beaten and arrested. There were those freethinkers from a thousand years BCE who first announced that kings were self-aggrandizing bullies and that the pantheon of gods did not exist. Our new hero takes his or her place beside these historical heroes.
But, if he is a kirist, he has a little extra understanding of his tasks and an updated view of life. He understands that he has multiple life purpose choices to make and that he need not put all of his eggs in one basket. Indeed, he ought not to put all of his eggs in one basket, as that is the path to burnout and emotional pain. He may throw himself into a cause and bravely defend a right or a principle; but he mustn’t forget that he has children who need to be hugged. By reminding himself that he has made multiple life purpose choices and not just one, he can be a hero one way, leading a march at noon, and a hero another way, reading to his children at bedtime.
Likewise, he understands that, while he would love his acts of heroism to feel meaningful as he performs them, they may not. He may only feel scared, anxious, tense, uncertain, or overwhelmed. He knows from his kirist studies that we must do the things we must do whether or not they produce the psychological experience of meaning. We do them because we have judged them to be the right thing to do, not because we are on a quest for meaning. There is no meaning to seek; rather, there is only meaning to coax into existence, as we stand our ground and do what we judge to be right. If, at the end of a principled day, we are only tired and depleted, we nevertheless smile: that was a day well spent.
Third, he understands that while being an intermittent hero is better than not being a hero at all, even better is maintaining a daily heroism practice. He pencils heroism onto his daily calendar, just as might pencil in exercise, journaling, or meditation. He does this because he knows how easy it is to not live heroically. If he starts to skip days, who knows how many weeks, months, or years may go by without him taking any heroic action? By habituating heroism, he makes sure not to avoid it.
These three simple kirist ideas—life purposes rather than life purpose, coaxing meaning rather than seeking meaning, and daily practice rather than irregular practice—help our New Hero be the hero he would like to be. They help him manifest heroism in all aspects of his life and they help him manifest heroism every single day. Isn’t that a very good way to live?
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