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FINDING TRUE NORTH

in substance. The words and images surrounding the Caregiver are soft, nurturing, soothing, and reassuring. The visual and verbal vocabulary of the Hero is energetic, dramatic, inspirational, and purposeful. As a result of this more urgent “voice,” the adoption of the Hero archetype has not been without its challenges, both within and outside of the organization. For instance, the folic acid awareness campaign used a commercial called “Traffic Baby,” in which we see a little child crawl right into a chaotic intersection, as trucks and taxis whiz by. The concept, which proved in research to be a highly effective one, conveys that if you don’t take folic acid even before you might be pregnant, you future baby will be subjected to this kind of risk. But many members of the organization became skittish about such a dramatic metaphor, and some public-service directors at stations throughout the country thought the ad might be “too disturbing” for their viewers. Such reactions are not at all surprising, because it seems that whenever a company or organization decides to really put a stake in the ground and establish a meaning, someone, somewhere, will take issue. But the process moves on. Today, the thousands of brochures, videos, ads, and other kinds of public service messages the March of Dimes creates are passed through the “Hero” filter, to be sure that they indeed reflect “one voice.” Very soon, as the culture fully embraces its heroic origin and destiny, the Hero’s voice will be its automatic and natural one. On the one hand, these are difficult times to embrace a heroic identity and to call attention to little lives “hanging in the balance.” The economy is strong, most Americans feel some participation in the boom, and we are generally at peace. The trend experts tell us that we are a cynical lot and that we have been disappointed so many times that we no longer believe in Heroes. That’s what people who merely scratch the surface predict. But the archetypal lens tells us that the need for Heroes and the desire to feel heroic ourselves is as old as the human species and that, no matter what, we will find some outlet for fulfilling that need. By acknowledging and tapping into that deep human truth, the March of Dimes was able to resurrect its heroic identity, re-energize its organization, and fulfill its valuable service more effectively.

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

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