Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

September 22, 2013

"Heroes are ordinary men and women who dare to see and meet the call of a possibility bigger than themselves. Breakthroughs are created by such heroes, by men and women who will stand for the result while it is only a possibility - people who will act to make possibility real."
This essay, Heroes, is the companion piece to It is also the third in an open group Conversations With A Friend Prequels: It is also, with Nothing Can Prepare You For This, a prequel to Conversation With A Friend: A Symphony Of Notes.

I am indebted to Chris Elleraas who contributed material for this conversation.

My first heroes were men and women from the world of film: early on, Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, then later Clint Eastwood in anything. The next group of people who etched themselves into my heart as my heroes were men and women from the world of sport: Peter May, captain of the MCC  ie Marylebone Cricket Club (England's national cricket team), Lionel Wilson who played full back  for the Springboks (South Africa's national rugby team), Joyce Hoffman (the first women's international surfing champion). Later when I was a teenager, it was men and women from the world of music over which The Beatles and Carole King reigned supreme.

There were many others to be sure, heroes of mine who didn't fit into the three broad categories of film, sport, and music. Some were my teachers - school teachers like Robin Whiteford, the enigmatic and brilliant headmaster of my high school which was known as SACS  ie South African College School. We didn't call Robin "The Boss" for nothing. Others were my spiritual teachers like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to name one, and Alan Watts to name another.


With hindsight (and hindsight is always  20/20 vision), the term spiritual  teacher probably adds more gray than the black and white a distinction should add. I have enough concern about this today to have stopped using that particular term entirely. However, back then it was the term I used, so I've noted it here simply to differentiate these people in the broader collection of men and women who were heroes for me.


There were also businessmen and businesswomen I knew who had created and achieved extraordinary success, like Raymond Ackerman who built the reputable Pick n Pay  international goliath of supermarket chains, starting with one tiny grocery store. There were explorers like Jan van Riebeeck who established the Cape Colony in South Africa for Holland, politicians like President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill and Baroness Margaret Hilda "The Iron Lady" Thatcher, authors like John Fowles and Anais Nin, comedians like Ellen DeGeneres and George Carlin, and mavericks like Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller.

Interestingly enough, while I had heroes in the world of sport and in the world of business, I watched them but never emulated them. The thought did cross my mind however on a few occasions to try out in the world of film, something I did follow through on, playing a bit part in "Fortune Dane", a B‑grade Hollywood movie starring Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed in Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky" series) and Joe Dallesandro (Joey Davis in Andy Warhol's "Heat").

As for my heroes in the world of music, they never influenced me to the point where I was inspired to write lyrics and / or accompanying chords. Yet the fantasy persists. Imagine sitting around a campfire with Sir James Paul McCartney, just the two of you strumming unaccompanied acoustic guitars, singing Lennon / McCartney's iconic "It's Only Love"? What could be sweeter? And as for my spiritual teachers / heroes, there was always something there for me with them which, had I gotten my interpretations and belief systems out of the way faster, I may have gotten more of, sooner.

Then along came Werner Erhard ... and something entirely new became possible for heroes. In fact in Werner a new kind of hero stepped up, a new kind of hero who wasn't well known before then, yet in a way was always expected by the world ("always yearned for  by the world" may be the way to say this if we tell the truth about it). No, not a better  kind of hero than all the others. And no, not even a replacement  hero for all the other. But distinct? Absolutely. And transformative? Totally.

About most heroes, I'm clear how great they are. They're great because of what they bring. They're great because of what they stand for. They're great because of what they create. They're great because of what they make available. They're great because of what they make possible. They're great because of who they are. When I'm around them (which includes reading about them and / or watching them on TV), their greatness is completely obvious to me.

But then there's the new kind of heroes for whom Werner blazes the trail. These heroes' greatness is also completely obvious to me. When I'm with them and / or when I'm around them, there's no question about their greatness ie about how great they are. But there's also something else, something which wasn't possible before in the realm of heroism ie something else which wasn't possible before in the realm of being heroic. It's this:

When I'm around these new heroes, I can tell their own greatness is of no importance to them. What's paramount for them is that from their greatness, I get how great I am. In other words what's paramount for them is that from their greatness, I get my own greatness. In your typical, ordinary, business as usual  hero situation, everyone gets how great the hero is. But with the new possibility of being a hero, heroes source everyone else getting how great they  are. In your typical, ordinary, business as usual hero situation, I get how great the hero is. But with the new possibility of being a hero, when I'm being around the hero, I get how great I  am.

Like I said, these aren't better kinds of heroes. Rather, they're complementary  kinds of heroes. By complementing heroism, they complete the possibility of heroism ie they complete the possibility of being heroic for everyone.

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