The New American Mythology

A great part of my inspiration in developing this thing I´ve come to call ¨The Unbroken Path¨ is the work of Joseph Campbell. I was first introduced to him through a book called Reflections on the Art of Living and later saw him in a PBS special called The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. It was through Campbell´s explanation of the monomyth, the Hero´s Journey that runs through our traditions, religions, and literature, that inspired me to look more deeply at the similarities between them and the story that they collectively tell.


MOYERS: What kind of new myth do we need?



CAMPBELL: We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet. A model for that is the United States. Here were thirteen different little colony nations that decided to act in the mutual interest, without disregarding the individual interests of any one of them.



MOYERS: There is something about that on the Great Seal of the United States.



CAMPBELL: That’s what the Great Seal is all about. I carry a copy of the Great Seal in my pocket in the form of a dollar bill. Here is the statement of the ideals that brought about the formations of the United States. Look at this dollar bill. Now here is the Great Seal of the United States. Look at the pyramid on the left. A pyramid has four sides. These are the four points of the compass. There is somebody at this point, there’s somebody at that point, and there’s somebody at this point. When you’re down on the lower levels of this pyramid, you will be either on one side or on the other. But when you get up to the top, the points all come together, and there the eye of God opens.



MOYERS: And to them it was the god of reason.



CAMPBELL: Yes. This is the first nation in the world that was ever established on the basis of reason instead of simply warfare. These were eighteenth-century deists, these gentlemen. Over here we read, “In God We Trust.” But that is not the god of the Bible. These men did not believe in a Fall. They did not think the mind of man was cut off from God. The mind of man, cleansed of secondary and merely temporal concerns, beholds with the radiance of a cleansed mirror a reflection of the rational mind of God. Reason puts you in touch with God. Consequently, for these men, there is no special revelation anywhere, and none is needed, because the mind of man cleared of its fallibilities is sufficiently capable of the knowledge of God. All people in the world are thus capable because all people in the world are capable of reason.



All men are capable of reason. That is the fundamental principle of democracy. Because everybody’s mind is capable of true knowledge, you don’t have to have a special authority, or a special revelation telling you that this is the way things should be.




Although I have given up the use of Federal Reserve Notes for the year (perhaps longer) and have recently seceded from the United States of America to start my own autonomous nation of Stevetopia, I do still keep a dollar bill in my wallet and hold great respect for the principles and vision upon which this country was founded. I have seen many people shrug off the current state of affairs in the American government with apathetic abandon. Although the principles still remain, deep seated in each one of us, the system designed to let them flourish has been plagued with the cancerous cell of avarice, a virus that overwhelms man´s capacity for reason and limits the fullness of his well-being.


Many people say that´s just the way things are, believing the myth of man´s fall and imperfection as they await the judgment and the following new heaven and new earth. I believe in salvation. Atonement. Not necessarily for America, for that is just a brand based on the feminine name of an explorer named Amerigo, and still just a human construct at that. Regardless of what happens to the image we have created to represent ourselves as a people, I still have more faith in the people than I do in the image.


The mythology of America stands at the opening to the Inmost Cave. Whether we come out as heroic, allowing democracy to fully blossom into what it can be so that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are fully protected and upheld, or we allow ourselves to believe that the darkness can overcome our light and allow the cancer to overtake us, will be based entirely on our decisions. It will not be based on the choices we are given by the forces that be, the mistakes of the past repeating themselves as insanity always does. It will be based on our decision to be the people we are capable of being.


Our future, the heights to which we are truly able to reach, is not based on a choice between left or right, red or blue, pro or con, or suck or blow. It is based on our decision to live rightly, according to our integrity as people, with wisdom, temperance, compassion, and appreciation for what our forefathers and our foremothers endured so that we may have such incredible capabilities in agriculture, industry, and information. Our future is based on our ability to live in the abundance of actuality instead of the illusion of scarcity.


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