I want to be Jason Bourne. (But not for the reason you're imagining right now)! I was watching The Bourne Identity for about the tenth time the other night. I thought it might be wise to ask myself what is it about this kind of character that is so compelling for me, (and probably 90% of my gender). You see, Jason can handle himself in any situation. He walks into the room, and has it cased out in seconds. He's always two steps ahead of everybody else. He gets himself out of any situation, and he's fearless in a fight.
Jason Bourne is a thirty million dollar weapon of the CIA, an assassin who is paid, not just to kill, but to be invisible at his job, leaving no trace. On one of his missions he hesitates, uncharacteristically, when he realizes that his target's young son is watching. He who hesitates is shot. He takes two in the back, and barely survives. When he recovers, he is suffering from amnesia. Jason Bourne is in a full blown identity crisis. His sole mission is to find out who he is.
What we have here is a fairly obvious metaphor of the male condition. We don't know who we are, and what we're searching for, more than anything else is a heart. Enter the love interest, Marie, an innocent waif herself. After agreeing to help Jason escape his first clash with the CIA operatives, she needs his protection. Predictably they fall in love. As Jason slowly recovers his memory, all he wants is out—so that he can be with Marie.
We have some pretty powerful metaphors grabbing me, and my gender, by the short curlies at this point. Jason is the Warrior, resolute, focused, and powerful. His mission to find himself and to find love is clear, and if he has to kill some bad guys along the way, so be it. But he's a warrior with a heart—and it's this second archetype that seals the deal: the Vulnerable Saviour. What chance does the 21st century man have, between wars, no helpless women to rescue in this post-feminist culture, and a fairly cushy life by any historical standards? What is going to elicit this kind of intensity, commitment, and courage in men today?
It's not the violence that I'm attracted to: it's the Warrior's boldness in standing up for himself, his capacity for resolute action, and his willingness to put it all on the line for his principles. I decided to connect with my own warrior energy. I actually got my body into a reasonable facsimile of warrior pose. Anger arose for all the ways that I was wimping out in my life. Not standing up for my principles. Pretending it doesn't matter when it does. I discovered that the warrior isn't actually motivated by anger. The anger (or on the flip side, the depression) is just a symptom of what is crying out to be defended. And what always is crying out for a little respect are the principles of the heart.
Two nights later I watched the Iron Man. Same basic formula, different circumstances. Tony Stark is a billionaire, weapons manufacturer. And once again, he is a man in search of a heart. His business is defence, and he recruits his false warrior (angry ego) to defend his defences, which is pretty much the job description of the false self. But when one of his weapons gets into the hands of some bad guys, his own heart is literally blown apart.
Imprisoned, Tony invents an energy supply that will keep his heart going. It's such an exceptional energy source that it also is able, not to merely keep him alive, but also to fuel his mission of defeating the bad guys. This energy source glows for all to see, like a laser beam, from the heart center. Like Jason Bourne, Tony also falls in love—with his personal assistant. This woman has functioned vicariously as his heart energy. when he couldn't manufacture it himself. This is a fairly accurate description of how women have functioned in men's lives historically.
Tony Stark teaches us that it's no longer good enough to simply live. The days of it being enough to merely earn a living and be bread winners are over. We need a mission we can give our lives to in an absolute and unambiguous fashion. We need a mission that recruits the soul as operatives in Spirit's mission. In an interesting departure from other superheroes, like Superman, Batman, and Spiderman, at the end of the film Tony Stark outs himself as Iron Man. He's no longer hiding behind the armor.
The world needs men to step up and be warriors for good, today more than ever. We need male power, passion, and intensity focused on co-creating a better future for the next generation. We can't leave this to our women to do it alone—and I wouldn't say this if I didn't see a trend developing of lots of spiritual warrior energy on the rise in women, but declining in the male gender. Am I wrong? I hope so. There are lots of causes to choose from, but my hunch is that men need to start by reconnecting with the energy source that is the heart. Maybe eventually, we'd be able to step out from behind our armour without losing our fierce commitment to do the right thing. I'm guessing this how the authentic warrior is aroused and recruited in the service of life.
This article was originally posted at If Darwin Prayed.