The narrative of the lonely hero

This has been an intensive weekend, with an unusual exposure to TV. The result of this intoxication is this post. Let me explain that on Saturday night I watched Lord of the Rings, and a couple of days earlier I watched a BBC documentary on Moreno Ocampo (Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague)

You might think that they’re not that related, but in fact they are.  The BBC documentary was very good, but the whole narrative was about Moreno Ocampo’s loneliness in facing his titanic task: bringing global justice to this world. He was screened walking along at night making his way home after an exhausting day, alone in his flat, eating a frugal breakfast without a trace of another human being (not to mention children). He was shown as a man devoted to a sole cause, and this cause deserved all his effort; that’s why despite the opposition from the United States and other major international powers, he’s still a hero.

Of course the BBC documentary showed women working alongside Ocampo, but they were his faithful companions, his devoted allies.

I personally admire this man, but I don’t like it when documentaries take this line of the lonely hero to show the personality and strength of the main character. What about other ways of committing to global justice that belong to other sort of narratives? For example, Scilla Elworthy set up the Oxford Research Group in her kitchen and has developed influential work in the field of peace studies; and there is Elsa Gindler and her amazing and pioneer body work.

These women work from a different perspective that we can called holistic, in which they try to engage all aspects of themselves in what they do. It’s possible to fight against war and have a family and a life, but for some reason I don’t understand all these documentaries and films keep on insisting that in order to do your task you need to have no family, no love and no ties. These heroes duties are full of sacrifices and burdens, whereas the women above are more about embracing what comes along on the way.

When Miranda Otto’s character is about to kill one the bad guys in Lord of the Rings the bad guy says something like: “There is no man that can kill me” and she answers: “I’m no man”; and kills him.

Well, this is about the same. I don’t want to do things differently from men (I don’t want to be defined as merely opposite to men): I just want to do it as a woman, but for God sake! A little bit of inspiration and imagination on feminine narratives would really pave our way.


2 responses to “The narrative of the lonely hero

  1. This post led me to an “a-ha!” moment this afternoon….

    Here in the U.S., there’s a lot of energy being put into so-called educational reform. The goal is typically said to be (as stated in a new set of national-ish learning standards) to ensure that all students are “college and career ready” by the time they complete high school. So, so, so many of our students are so poorly served by our school system — and yet there’s something about this view that seems impoverished. Yes, let’s make sure that all students are “college and career ready” — but shouldn’t there be more to education than that?

    It’s this statement about Elworthy and Gindler’s trying “to engage all aspects of themselves in what they do” that led to my “a-ha” moment. Because for so, so many of us, don’t our careers ask us — require us — to divorce parts of ourselves from our work? So it’s not just the view of education that is impoverished, it’s the view of work that’s impoverished….

    • Totally agree. How many times do you sit down quietly and think ” how this job is contributing to make me a better person or helping me to embrace all parts of myself?”
      Many times, it can be the way we do our jobs, but other times is about the lack of questions.
      I’ve met a lot of people doing work for charities and NGO’s that they are selfish, arrogant and egodentric. So yes, jobs can divorce and even exacerbated different parts of ourselves.

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