On Being a Chosen One
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we tackle tough questions every day! Here's a tough question that I'd like to sack for a 20-yard loss:
What's the best way to handle the "chosen ones" amongst us?
The question came up one day over this holiday when I was discussing Harry Potter with my daughters. My feeling was that the Harry Potter series comes apart on about Page 50 when it becomes clear that Harry is a "chosen one." Special as he is, all of his superiors hide essential information from him ... constantly. If I was a chosen one, I would like to learn as much as I could, as fast as I could. It was supremely frustrating for me, reading that series, because just once I would have liked Harry to say, "Damn it, quit beating around the bush!" And then Dumbledore should have spoken up about everything, including being gay. But then it wouldn't have been a very exciting story, huh?
This is why King Arthur works -- after a thousand years. As a kid his life was in danger (like Harry), so he was hidden in a forest and not told who he was (unlike Harry), all the while being groomed in martial arts (better than Harry) and the attainment of wisdom (more systematically than Harry). When he finally discovered he was a king, he was ready to go whoop ass and rule, without ever having had to deal with the angst of nagging doubts about the quality of his teachers and what they might or might not be telling him.
One last fictitious chosen one: Luke Skywalker. Again, better than Harry. As a kid his life was in danger (like Harry and Arthur) so he was hidden away on a planet (like Arthur) watched over by a benign hermit (more Dumbledore than Merlin). Thrust into the fray, Luke had to learn by doing (unlike Arthur but somewhat like Harry). The difference? Luke's dad was a bad guy. (In some versions of the Arthur tale, Uther's no gem either, but he's never a Darth Vader.)
On to the chosen ones in the real world. It has never made sense to me that Jesus got visited by wise men and angels as a child, and then spent 30 years doing carpentry with his dad. I wonder if the historians got that part right? Actually, if you read the New Testament closely, you see that Jesus was rather confused at age 30 about who he was and what he was expected to do. I blame the parents in this situation. Every Christmas, at the very least, they should have reminded Jesus of the circumstances of his birth. Maybe he would have gotten started on his mission earlier, and lasted a little longer.
Another chosen one: The Dalai Lama. Heads up, fiction writers! If you want to see how it's done, watch this process. The dude was deemed a chosen one at a time of life when about all he could choose for himself was whatever he could grab. And yet, have been deemed the chosen one, he was carefully brought up and tutored by the finest minds of the generation. End result: an extremely intelligent, humble, practical man. I doubt if there's one Dumbledore in the Dalai Lama's past.
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty doggoned skeptical of people who get "chosen one" status as adults. Look at your popes. A mixed bag at best. Seems to me that if you're a chosen one, something major should happen at your birth, or soon thereafter. In this, our real world could borrow from fiction -- assuming King Arthur is fictitious (which I don't, I think He's a bored god).
If someone tells you he or she is a chosen one, do a background check. An improperly-trained chosen one is a rather dangerous entity. Behind every chosen one should be a good teacher or two. I'm not just saying that because I'm a teacher. I'm saying it because the vast majority of humans don't operate purely on instinct, so they'd better have learned something before they begin issuing orders and battling evil.