Out of all the ways Joseph Campbell talked about the importance of mythology and ceremony as metaphors for teaching us how to grow up and live in the world in The Power of Myth, what stood out to me the most was the necessity of their adaptability. As times changed along with peoples’ needs and interests, previously common myths had to adapt or fall out of relevance, to make way for the creation of newer ones. Campbell believed this was happening during the time of his interview. That was decades ago.
So, a few weeks ago as I read The Power of Myth and watched our country elect Trump as our next president, I had one thought on my mind: What new myth is this decision helping to create? What will be the repercussions for our country and for the rest of the world now that we’ve chosen this kind of person to lead us? What metaphors, what baseline for acceptable behavior, are we putting in place for future generations?
Will our new myth be one of hatred, one of fueling violent acts of misogyny, racism, homophobia, and others? If Trump continues as he has thus far and follows through on his campaign promise, I don’t see how our new myth could be anything but one of hatred. I can’t fathom how far and for how long the repercussions will reach. And I fear how our country’s decision (even if not unanimous) will affect everyone beyond what I have anticipated.
But despite my distrust and fear, I also feel determination. To fight back. To stand up for what’s right. I know I’m not alone in feeling that way – that the wrong decision was made. And that gives me hope. Hope that determination will win out in enough of us to make a difference and change course. Hope that maybe that’s where the real new myth for us lies. Maybe it’s not in fear or hared but in our response to it and our unity against it. And I hope that is what we are truly putting in place for younger and future generations to grow up and live by.