Editorial: A hero’s journey

POSTED: 01/23/12 7:11 PM

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
This is how the American mythologist Joseph Campbell describes the hero’s journey in his epic work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell’s philosophy is best summed up in these three words: Follow your bliss.
All this seems to fit Laura Dekker like a glove. At the tender age of 16 years and 123 days she completed her sailing trip around the world on Saturday. Dekker’s achievement is a true hero’s journey that started in fact more than six years ago when this 10-year old New Zealand/German/Dutch girl got it into her head to sail solo around the world.

When she first announced her plan in 2009, bureaucrats came down on her like a ton of bricks. Youth Care and the Youth Protection Bureau went out of their way to thwart the trip. Dekker was threatened with placement under the “protection” of these social services; the pressure became so high that she fled to St. Maarten. She was caught and taken back to the Netherlands where she eventually prevailed in court.

When the same bureaucrats that bugged her before her departure started making noises again, Dekker removed the Dutch flag from her boat – Guppy – and replaced it with the one from New Zealand. She arrived in St. Maarten under that flag. A justified signal to those smart alecks back home.
Now her hero’s journey is complete and she put St. Maarten on the world map, but what did St. Maarten do in return besides organizing a welcoming party?

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