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The Hero's Voice is Within Your Reach

The Hero’s Voice is Within Your Reach

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A guest essay on Laura Dodsworth’s Substack by former headteacher and author Mike Fairclough.

As the only UK headteacher to publicly question lockdowns, masking kids, and the Covid vaccine rollout to children, I was not alone in my beliefs. Other headteachers privately told me that they agreed with my stance but that they worried that voicing their concerns would impact on their careers and relationships. This is despite every education professional having a legal, as well as a moral, duty to safeguard children against harm.

This prompted me to explore ways in which we might empower ourselves and others to speak out about controversial and politically sensitive topics. Whether that be gender ideology within schools, the baffling notion of a man being able to give birth, climate change, anti-Semitism or any of the other “off-limits” topics. If what we wish to say amounts to lawful free speech, we should say it. However, people are increasingly self-censoring out of fear of reprisals. Unfortunately, this can only end badly in the long run.

My search for a solution led me to the archetype of the hero and the mythological quest. Having incurred some rather brutal personal losses, including my career, I am unable to pretend that speaking out is easy. This is why people self-censor. It is definitely safer to stay silent in the short term. But what are the long-term consequences of our silence? Could, for example, the horrors of Nazi Germany and the persecution of the Jews be repeated if people are silent en-mass about anti-Semitism? Of course, you know the chilling answer to that question.

“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” Martin Luther King.

As a society, we urgently require symbols and role models which inspire our empowerment. Archetypes which enable us to deal with change, to face the unknown, to take risks, and to become resilient – powerful examples which encourage us to have the confidence to speak our truth – particularly in the face of opposition and within climates of growing censorship. Ancient mythology and the concept of the hero’s quest can provide us with a primordial story structure which has been utilised in numerous films and books and which everyone will recognise on closer look, and the image of the freedom fighter, the truth seeker, and courageous warrior.

Within ancient mythology, the hero, or central character, often begins the tale living in relatively settled or normal surroundings. They are then called to embark on a quest, which in most cases the character at first resists. Change and transformation in the direction of adventure, and likely danger, are not welcomed. They say things along the lines of “Why choose me?” and “I’m not a hero.” Preferring to carry on their lives within the safety and certainty of what they already know. The reluctant hero is strongly resistant to the quest and to what it might bring.

Eventually, the call to adventure is answered with positive action and the first stage of their journey begins. Often, this is because the alternative, doing nothing, is worse than the potential perils of the quest. Entering into unchartered territory and the unknown, the hero then embarks on their adventure. Here on in, they encounter various trials and challenges. Each one a test of the character’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual attributes. Forced out of their comfort zone and honing new or latent skills as required, the hero moves towards their goal.

Self-doubt, feelings of despair, and making mistakes are typical aspects of the hero’s journey. So too are moments when the character realises that they are stronger than they had previously realised. More willing to make sacrifices for others, standing up to opponents, and triumphing over a range of adversities.

Towards the end of the story, the hero attains their goal. They also acquire and recognise new, often magical, inner gifts. Revelations which would have remained undiscovered had it not been for the quest and its hard challenges. Finally, within most of these stories, the hero returns home. Wiser, stronger, and in full knowledge of their new powers. The cycle is then complete. The main character, who to start with was resistant to the challenge of the quest, has transformed into a hero.

The archetypes of the mythological hero and the heroic quest are potent antidotes to an age of creeping tyranny and offer powerful rebuttals to self-censorship and cultural disempowerment. This is where we can find inspiration for our empowered voice and to stand up for what we believe in.

A gift not only to ourselves but to our children and to the generations of humanity to follow.

You might think that I am casting myself as an invincible hero. Not at all. In fact, the hero’s journey is full of times when the main character believes that they will not make it to the end of their quest. Periods when they seriously lack confidence and question their abilities. Something which I have experienced throughout my journey and continue to do so when I am really up against it.

However, I have also gained a deeper awareness of my core values and beliefs, I have become more resilient and know that I have defended the well-being of our nation’s children. The costs are high but worth it. The prospect of your own free speech quest might feel insurmountable or even futile at first. Until you embark on it, you will never know. You might find yourself defending the underdog. Perhaps you will speak up against a crowd of different thinking. Your free speech quest might enter you into the global struggle for rationalism, freedom, and the pursuit of inalienable rights. The heroic quest is not just for Odysseus, Luke Skywalker, and Katniss Everdeen; we can all be heroes in one way or another.

Next year, Skyhorse Publishing will release my fourth book, The Hero’s Voice – Finding the Courage to Speak Out. The foreword is written by Dr. Peter McCullough and the afterword by Dr. Jay Bhattacharya. It is illustrated by the German activist and artist, Monica Felgendreher. Within the book, I expand on the idea of embarking on our individual free speech quests and overcoming self-censorship.

Something which I regard as one of the most urgent issues of our time.

Republished from Laura Dodsworth’s Substack



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Author

  • Mike Fairclough

    Mike's successful 20-year career in education ended when he questioned vaccine policy for schoolchildren. He has been investigated by his employer, and he has since taken his employer to the employment tribunal.

    View all posts

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