2008

3 September 2008: We all can identify with Obama’s heroism

Obama is an epic hero

What happened at Mile High Stadium—not, Invesco—when Barack Obama accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party for President was stagecraft designed to match the act itself: epic in nature, a turning point in not only American history, but in human history as well.

Epic is the right word, despite the general perception of epic being of the world beyond. It’s not; epics are of the human experience, not the supernatural.

Charleton Heston once explained the difference between a super hero and an epic hero: The essential difference, he noted, is that a super hero cannot die and is, therefore, “unsatisfactory.” Simply put, he/she is not human.

What Heston was getting at is that our heroes must be like us in their essentialism. What makes them heroic is their profound and poignant life’s story in which they, through their struggles, have transcended the realm of the ordinary, have achieved a mighty feat—found a golden fleece or slew a fierce dragon—and have returned to their people with that sought and fought-for prize or deed to improve their lives.

The grandeur of the event surrounding of Barack Obama’s acceptance speech was to put his feat within that context, within the realm of human experience.

John McCain and Barack Obama are mere mortals who have done heroic deeds that set them apart.

McCain has been acknowledged as being a war hero for his act of courage in his ordeal as a prisoner of war.

From his captors’ point of view, of course, McCain was a war criminal given his dropping bombs on their country. Despite that, he has won the respect of many of his former captors for his dogged determination and courage throughout his captivity.

While we also join in on that respect, our acknowledgment is from a distance in that most of us cannot identify with McCain’s experience.

Growing up, McCain lived a life of privilege. He joined the Navy at a very young age, and having done so, lived a life that the vast majority of Americans can only observe: most Americans do not join the military. Unless we have donned the uniform or have a personal connection with one who has, military life and deeds are beyond most Americans’ world of daily experience.

Soldiers and warriors are “other,” much like our recent Olympians such as Michael Phelps, but of course, in a far more profound manner.

Obama, on the other hand, performed feats in the world of the mundane, in the world of ordinary human beings, the world in which the vast majority of the rest of us live.

His struggle emanates from the circumstances of his birth and upbringing: born in Hawaii to a white mother and an African father, who essentially rejected him at birth, and raised by supportive and caring grandparents, who, though loving, were two generations apart from the growing boy.

His struggle was a search for personal identity: Who am I?

It’s tough enough for any young boy to grow up having experienced the rejection that Barack—then, Barry—did. Coupling that rejection with his bi-racialism exacerbated his inner turmoil.

Yet, for all that—and each responsible voter has the obligation of learning the FACTS of his biography, not the lies such as those promulgated by swine such as Jerome Corsi—he has not only overcome, but has moved beyond to the point that he has been named by one of the two dominant political parties in the world’s single-most powerful democracy.

By the fact that Barack Obama has achieved all he has in America—not France, nor Britain, nor Canada—gives strength to and profound evidence of that vital myth of our culture: our Dream, the belief that anyone can transcend the vagaries and curveballs that life has thrown at them and perform worthy and noble feats.

Maybe that can happen elsewhere, not only in America, but we can take pride it has here. It is a powerful statement to the world about America.

The setting in a football stadium, Mile High, the battlefield for our gladiators, amidst reminders of current expressions of epic heroes, the Ring of Fame of the greatest Broncos—Elway, Turner, Jackson—was apropos.

The symbolism was rich, loaded, and powerful, crafted to move us as a people, and in the practical sense we as voters, to understand that what this was all about was not Barack Obama, but We, We as a People, who have moved, if even if haltingly and perhaps hesitatingly, to that culmination, that fulfillment of what we say we stand for, believe in, and claim as our unquie heritage: the American Dream.

Obama is no super hero, nor a hero in the McCain sense. Obama’s heroism rests in the realm with which most of us can identify: ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

That was the intent of the breathtaking celebration, with the backdrop designed to recall Classical Greece that surrounded and followed his speech.

Obama’s speech was about ordinary life, in ordinary language. It was a tribute, prosodic, with its rhythmic and intonational language and delivery, constructed to remind us of the Common Man, of which Obama is and McCain is not.

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