The Gospel According to He-Man

So, in a previous sermon, I said, “Don’t dismiss a message just because people say the source is laughable.” I want to expand on that a little bit, and coincidentally show my age, with a specific example.

I don’t know how many of you have heard of a cartoon from the mid 1980s, known as “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” but it came into vogue at a time when I was just old enough to think it was for younger children than myself. I never got into it as much as my playmates did, who had all the toys it was designed to sell, and wanted to play-act being the characters when we were romping around our respective backyards.

Yes, I’m so old I actually played outside as a child. The modern parents among you are wondering if it’s too late to call Child Protective Services on my parents, and the answer is “yes, and thank every god in the Pantheon for that.”

But I’m digressing again, and I haven’t even started.

I spotted the show on a streaming service a while back, and since I’d been happily reliving some of my own childhood joys, I decided what the hell, I’ll finally see what that littler kid on the corner was so in love with.

I’m not sure what exactly he liked, though it is a pretty entertaining cartoon, with more fluid animation than you might expect for the era, but what caught my attention watching this as a grownup, is the vital philosophical truth that is its central point.

Sounds nuts? Of course it does, but hear me out:

See, when Prince Adam makes his magical transformation into The Most Powerful Man In The Universe, he finishes by shouting out to all creation, “I have the power!”

Think about that.

That, is the most vital lesson anyone ever taught.

“I have the power.”

Those four words are the basis of every therapy session, every piece of advice and encouragement, every religious ceremony, every resumé, every plan, every undertaking of any sort.

“I have the power.”

Nothing, absolutely nothing at all can be accomplished without those four words; whether you want to play the accordion, understand math, escape an abusive relationship, start a healthy relationship, write a book, become a Marine, host a talk show, wrestle a steel cage match, sign your name, or tie your shoes, you have to start with those four words, whether you articulate them in that form or not.

“I have the power.”

But the thing is, it isn’t enough to say these words. These words are just sounds when they’re spoken, and squiggles when they’re written, unless and until they are believed. If you don’t believe you can accomplish something, you’ve already failed. Self-belief is the root of all personal evolution, and you have it in you.

But even that isn’t enough: it isn’t enough just to believe you have the power, it has to be True. As a matter of fact, there’s an episode which reveals that the “Power” He-Man is referring to is “the power of Truth and Knowledge,” and if that doesn’t explain why he’s “the most powerful man in the Universe” I don’t know what does, because there is nothing whatever that can stand against those two things combined. They’d make any man powerful, and do wonders for women as well, because they don’t discriminate.

“I have the power.”

You have the power to believe those words…and the wonderful thing here is that you also have the power to make them True. That is a circle completed: these four words are their own product, their own source.

These four words may be the most profound statement of philosophy, or of psychology, theology, or sociology…and they didn’t come from a wizened mouth speaking in an impenetrable German accent, they didn’t come from a priest in flowing, glowing robes, they didn’t come from a community leader on a pedestal, or an ivory tower standing tall above a University, or a behavioral research lab; they didn’t come from a crumbling dusty book deep in the bowels of the world’s biggest library…

They came from the mouth of the main character of a simple children’s cartoon designed to sell toys and throw in a little morality lesson so parents wouldn’t complain that it was mindless.

This is what I’m talking about when I say not to dismiss a message to spite its source; you can find inspiration absolutely anywhere as long as you don’t shut it out.

“I have the power.”

That’s a hell of a message to impart to small children. It’s a hell of a message to impart to adults. I kind of wish I had watched it as a child; it might have done wonders for my self-confidence.

Speaking of which, here comes the practical example:

I told you in my first post that what did do wonders for my self-confidence was learning to ride a motorcycle. The idea I’m trying to get across in this post was never more apparent, than the first day of butts-on training with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation training course.

Try and picture a guy in his 30s, who never seriously thought he could do anything, sitting down on a motorcycle, one of the least safety-conscious transportation devices known to humanity, for the first time since he was three.

Picture that guy firing it up and putting around, nothing between him and the asphalt but a leather jacket and an overdeveloped, crippling sense of self-preservation.

Try to picture, try and imagine, try to feel the spark deep in that guy’s soul when he suddenly realizes that he can do this. When once upon a time he didn’t think he could do anything.

The sensation of going, of growing, from “what am I doing?” to “I can do this” is one that outshines any other in all of human experience. It was at that moment that I knew I had the power. I had the power to overcome my doubts, to defy gravity with the aid of internal combustion and a couple strips of rubber and not fail. That’s the important part. I had the power to not fail.

What else did I have the power to do?

There was a swagger to my step, for the first time in my life, when I went home from that class. Never mind the fact that the bike in question was, at 125cc’s, technically a motorcycle-shaped scooter, I felt ten feet tall. I had done it. I could do it. I had the Power.

That means a lot, to someone who spent most of his time feeling powerless.

Nothing has been the same since. Damn, if I had got one of these things when I was seventeen, I’d rule the world by now. The confidence that moment finally made to bloom has grown, and my life has gone nowhere but up, proportionate to that growth.

I have the Power!

And I’m not unique in that.

The motorcycle itself isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it sure as hell worked for me. It might work for you, too. And if it doesn’t, something else will. Find it if you need it, and look everywhere. If I can do it, you can do it.

Because You have the Power.

He-Man taught me that. And I can tell, that it is the Truth.

…and Truth rides a motorcycle.

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