We’re Refusing the Call to Adventure and Failing the Planet in the Process

Andrew Greene
8 min readJun 14, 2024

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Many of our favorite stories follow a general formula, a monomyth with similar touchstones, symbols and rites of passages. Joseph Campbell called it the hero’s journey.

Every story begins with a Call to Adventure, a call to leave the familiar behind and venture into the unknown. Luke Skywalker must leave Tatooine. Frodo must leave the Shire. Alice must leap into the rabbit hole.

Adventure isn’t a whitewashed trip to a resort. It is a hazardous quest into unknown territory. These Calls to Adventure are dangerous.

Despite the inherent danger, I don’t think any one of us, when watching or reading these stories, are imploring these characters to stay home. I don’t think any one of us, when watching or reading those stories, are imagining ourselves rejecting the Call to Adventure.

If you grew up watching and loving the kinds of stories Hollywood loves to make, you yearned for a similar Call to Adventure in your life.

A talking rabbit was going to enter stage left, yapping about being late for an important date. A badass, sexy Prince or Princess was going to need our help. Peter Pan was going to invite us to Neverland where we never had to grow up.

But these weren’t the calls to adventure, to action, we were destined to receive.

Perhaps because it’s dangerous and scary, because it’s REAL and not make-believe, we’re missing our Call to Adventure right now. In fact, we’ve spent a long, long time refusing this call, turning away, ignoring it.

Every blood-soaked video of a child murdered in Gaza, their sobbing parents cradling their bodies. Every violent death across this planet, in Sudan, Congo, Tigray, Armenia, Ferguson, Minneapolis, the unhoused and displaced people across the globe.

These were and are all Calls to Action, to adventure.

Yet here we remain, still stuck in the refusal of the call stage.

It’s natural to be resistant — this wasn’t the call we wanted or expected and it’s not easy to answer. That’s why so many generations have refused this call before us. This refusal of the call stage is part of our story, but we’re in danger of missing the rest of the story if we don’t heed the call sooner rather than later.

We’ve all refused calls in our lifetime, often labeling them as regrets. That time I was too scared to go to a leadership conference in middle school. When I didn’t get in shape for baseball tryouts freshman year. When I thought I was too cool and too old to see The Lion King on stage. When my coworker told me not to drive home because I was drunk.

I’ve spent so much of my life wishing I could rewrite past mistakes, but I’ll never know what my life would be like had I heeded these calls.

Refusing the call is human. It happens to all of us. No shade, no judgment.

When Obi-Wan Kenobi first invites Luke Skywalker to go with him on his dangerous adventure, Luke responds like so:

This feels painfully familiar. But it makes sense. Every hero in their story faces a challenge, has a weakness — a physical and/or spiritual obstacle they must overcome to succeed in their quest.

A hero must reach acceptance, must take responsibility, must overcome their fears, and they must forgive themselves for their failures.

I struggle with this daily. I struggled for weeks before I was even able to write this.

I can’t let my doubts, my fears, my insecurities win any longer. This is too important.

This time, I’m not going to refuse the call. Because I believe answering this call, joining this fight, is the only thing that matters. This is a call to save the world from the imperialist and capitalist systems that are destroying the planet and its many beautiful species.

People are being exploited and killed every second of every day for money and power. It’s not even a secret anymore, yet we’re still going about our normal daily routine.

Before you go all Luke Skywalker and talk about how you don’t like it and it’s so far away and what can you do–

Shut up. You can do this: You can accept what is happening here and now, not like it’s in a galaxy far, far away. You can wake up and accept that fascism isn’t coming, it’s already here.

I know you want to turn away, but don’t be like Lucy Pevensies’ siblings. When she discovered Narnia in the back of their wardrobe and returned to tell her siblings, they didn’t believe her. They thought she was just a stupid kid with a wild imagination. Lucy was not a stupid kid and neither am I. Neither are you.

To accept what is happening requires taking responsibility for participating in this society for so long. To realize the harm we’ve caused by staying silent, by just going through the daily motions. To realize the immense harm our countries have caused in our names, with our money.

That realization brings guilt and shame. I know.

But once we forgive ourselves for not knowing, for not understanding, for believing the billions of dollars of propaganda we’ve endured in our lifetimes, for not listening to the cries for help, for not listening to the alarms in our body, we can finally move forward.

Luke, as we all do, faces a crisis of belief. Any time we face a new challenge, we expect that we will fail. That’s being human. We haven’t faced this challenge before, so we don’t know how to overcome it. The unknown is the scariest fucking thing in the universe.

That it feels unknown is because of our ignorance to other ways of being, other forms of government, of society.

Many don’t have the choice to refuse the call. That is a privilege many of us hold merely by where we were born. Those that are born in the Global South, the kids born in Gaza, in Sudan, in Congo, in Tigray and beyond, are forced to face genocide every single moment of every single day. They never had a choice. It’s because of their lack of choice that we must make this choice.

We must go out of our ordinary world — we must leave the comfort of our capitalist, patriarchal, white supremacist, imperialist society and the communities that support and reinforce that. We must dare to reimagine different ways of being and living. We must actually live as if we are no better or different than anyone else. This means not waiting until starvation, dehydration, wildfires, disease or bombs are affecting you personally before giving a shit.

You’re not going to get riches or a Prince or Princess for not being a zombie. The reward is in the doing, of doing something that matters. Making sacrifices for something bigger than me or you.

We’re not facing dragons or dark wizards. We’re facing something much worse — billionaires, zionists, racists, gaslighters, foot soldiers of a crumbling world order that seek to take us all down with it rather than change what is destroying our world.

Hollywood, capitalism, our individualistic society, the hero’s journey myth in general would have us believe that it’s up to one person, one hero, one of us to spark the rebellion, to destroy the Empire.

That’s bullshit. A movement spearheaded by specific individuals is a vulnerable one. It’s why the U.S. paints the Civil Rights Movement as Martin Luther King Jr.’s rather than the reality of so many activists working toward the same cause.

We must eradicate the white savior complex that is often weaved into these stories. The only person you’re saving is yourself and your soul.

This is a collective movement.

One in which all of our struggles are interconnected. The ruling class would have us believe we must fight each issue separately when the root of every problem is imperialist capitalism, a system that requires racial and social hierarchies to justify inequality and oppression.

Our hero’s journey in America, in the colonial Western world, is to recognize our privilege, our selfishness, our naiveté, and to sacrifice the ease of a lie to join hands with those that have been facing the consequences of that lie. We must face uncomfortable truths. The more people that do that, the stronger we become.

This is supposed to be hard. This is supposed to be scary. That’s how it’s been going on for so long. But it must stop. And it will. I refuse to believe otherwise.

The revolution is happening. It’s been happening this entire time thanks to so many brave people and movements. This story is going to happen with or without you. Or worse, you’re going to be in the story, but wittingly or unwittingly supporting the Empire.

I don’t want to spend my one life as part of a story like the one we’re currently living.

What if Luke had never left Tatooine?

What if Neo had taken the blue pill?

What if Dorothy decided to let Toto die?

What if Frodo never left Hobbiton, the ordinary world he was accustomed to?

What if Alice was just too darn busy for Wonderland?

What if Lucy’s family never believed her and never entered that magical wardrobe?

Imagine if Katniss had let Prim go off to die.

In all of these worlds, if the protagonists had rejected the call, had decided to stay home under the illusion of safety– the dangers they were hiding from would always come to their front door. That’s our future too if we let it.

What if Katniss had succumbed to despair after volunteering as tribute? What if she never trusted anyone else, never believed she could win because the odds were so clearly not in her favor?

The odds won’t ever be in our favor if we continue to stay silent, stay scared, stay ignorant, stay obedient, stay alone. We tilt the odds in our favor by speaking up and coming together.

You can do this. I believe in you. You’re not alone.

Thousands of people are embarking on this same journey alongside one another, connected not by geography or nationality or class or sex or gender or language or religion, but by love.

This is the call we were born to answer.

Join the fellowship. Take the leap. We’re late, we’re late for a very important date.

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Andrew Greene

Writer, director. Creator of The Naked Man Podcast. Human sampler tray following breadcrumbs, forever hungry. @WanderingGreene on IG, Letterboxd & Twitter