Most people spend their lives doing everything they can to avoid conflict and struggle. But imagine if we went to see an adventure movie, and there were just positive things going on. Imagine that Indiana Jones never did a stupid thing that almost got him killed, or if he never had a phobia about rats or snakes. Imagine if it was just like he was walking around the university and someone says, “Dr. Jones, there’s this artifact hidden in a cave.” He says, “Gosh, let’s go get it,” and then the next scene they come back and say, “Well, we got it, everything went fine.” That isn’t an adventure movie. We wouldn’t pay seven bucks for that, it wouldn’t be worth it.Yet in our own lives, it seems that we spend so much energy trying to avoid conflict that we miss the point. It is conflict and struggle that actually give us opportunities to discover who we really are and what. amazing gifts we possess. We miss the point that each of us is Indiana Jones. Each of us is Ulysses, Odysseus, sailing home from Troy. But if we can reawake, re-light our pilot lights and say, ‘Wow. I’m alive. What’ s it all about, what can I do to make a difference?” Then, at that moment, we are the heroes of our own classic, timeless, spiritual adventure, this great Indiana Jones movie that is our lives. We already know the movie is going to end, so the point is not to live forever; the point is to be heroic. And each of us can be heroic in everything that we do. Each of us can be courageous. The word “courage” comes from the Latin cor, or “heart.” To be courageous means “to put one’s heart on” or “to follow your heart.” And that’s what we all need to do: reawaken and follow our hearts.
Our media can be heroic by portraying people with brain disorders in other ways than sensationally, as violent psychopath, as they do 78 percent of the time. Instead, they can show us to be people like any others: moms and dads, brothers and sisters, good people with a terrible disease who, if treated, are no more likely to commit a violent crime than any other group.
Our medical professionals can be heroic by approaching and solving the medical mystery of brain disorders with the same excitement and passion they’ve shown for every other disease They can stop allowing mental illness to lag behind all other illnesses in research, money, manpower and especially in attitude and perception.
Our faith provides can be heroic by understanding that by welcoming those with this disease into our churches and synagogues, this will be what will fill their pews in the 21st century.
Our insurance companies. and employers can be heroic by realizing that by giving us equality in health coverage, we can become happier and healthier, as well as better employees and taxpayers. If they don’t do this simply because it is the right thing to do, then they can do it because it’s the financially smart thing to do.
Our legislators can be heroic by not staying simply politicians, but by becoming leaders. Our cause is THE CAUSE of the 21st century, a cause not unlike the Civil Rights struggles of the ‘ 50s and ’60s. If they take a chance and lead us, they will not only create a place of honor for themselves in history, but they will also come to the aid of millions of registered voters.
And you, consumers and family members, can be heroic, by staying alive. By getting up in the morning. By taking your meds, or seeing your therapist; by not isolating yourselves, by doing everything you can to heal. You can be heroic by being kind to those who have hurt or abandoned you. You can be heroic by not giving in to bitterness and despair. You can be heroic by making every word, gesture, action, moment, and relationship become precious and important We can be heroic by building new dreams, and by reminding ourselves that there is nothing wrong with us. We are wonderful people who happen to have a terrible disease, but we are not our disease. The passion, commitment and courage we bring to this cause is what will end the stigma and discrimination that we have always faced with this “politically incorrect” disease. It is what will make a better world for our children and our children’s children.