To stand up for a cause is not the same thing as standing against people. In history, we get locked in important struggles about what is right and wrong, but we should never believe that we are good people fighting bad ones. Paul noted that we do not struggle against other people, but against “principles and powers.” Anyone who deeply studies humankind knows that we are very similar to one another. We often do harm with good reasons, and do good for secretly naughty motives.
The poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, was fascinated by the use of dragons in fairy tales, particularly ones that became beautiful when confronted with love. “Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princes and princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us. (Slight paraphrase)
It is exhausting to picture oneself as a lonely crusader against a brutish world. Instead of seeing ourselves fighting terrible ogres it is nice to realize that we are really just waking each other up. We are like an acting troupe that is so good that we loose ourselves in our roles. The actress playing the dragon this week will be a lovely princess soon, but she cannot remember that now. She is protecting the cave for reasons she cannot quite recall. The handsome prince and princess are also ordinary people. Today they are hiding on their pedestals afraid that someone will see that they are really just like the rest of us.
The remedy to “crusaders exhaustion” is to remember your opponents humanity, and your own. They are not dragons and we are not dragon slayers. We all just people trying to get by. The world is better served if we can all step outside such roles and ask what is the highest good which includes everyone, princes, princesses, and dragons.