LAST MAN STANDING
I have often dreamed of a far off place
Where a hero’s welcome will be waiting for me
And the crowds will cheer, when they see my face
And a voice keeps saying this is where I’m meant to be
In the 1997 film, Hercules, a young man finds himself alone and lonely. Born with incredible strength, Hercules finds himself unable to fit into a society of mortals and discovers that he had been found with the symbol of the gods around his neck. Hercules wonders whether the gods may have the answers behind his past. He decides to go to the Temple of Zeus and it is during this journey that he sings of his dreams of a hero’s welcome. The song Go the Distance eggs him on and keeps him focused on his goal.
As I watched Hercules travel the untrodden path, I listened to the words of his powerful song. I head his determination. I believed that his physical strength and his strength of character would carry him to his hero’s welcome. Eventually it did and Hercules earned his place in the realm of the Greek gods.
Recently, a television programme evoked the memories of Hercules’ hope song. Last Man Standing is a reality TV programme about culture, character and competition. In each episode, 6 men are pitted against one another to experience different cultures and fight. They don’t only fight to win – they fight to be the Last Man Standing.
In some episodes, brute force separates the men from the boys. Using strength and technical aptitude, each man is required to floor his opponent in the shortest possible time, ensuring that the opponent’s contact with the ground is indisputable. In other episodes, weapons such as clubs will drive the fighter’s cause. Sometimes it is necessary to draw blood from the opponent. To render him helpless. To render him weak.
Sometimes it is the mind that wins. When the opponents are required to run 25 kilometres up a mountain in the blistering heat, you can see the weight of their task written all over their faces. The gravity of their assignment is compounded by the rubber sandals that they wear – and the small wooden ball that they are required to kick and never lose sight of as they run the race. As if this is not enough, they must watch out for slithering serpents whose venom can render them incapable of competing for their honour. These tasks are not about strength of the body. They’re about inner strength. They’re about perseverance.
After competing by day, the men are required to immerse themselves into the culture of the natives of those distant lands. They are required to earn their keep by doing the jobs that men do in these cultures. They shed their fighting instinct and clothe themselves in the cloak of duty – doing everything they can to experience the essence of that culture.
They forget the competition and build camaraderie. They talk. They laugh. They celebrate birthdays. With each episode, the audience is taken through what it means to compete. What it takes to be the last man standing. To remain in the running, each man must exhibit character. He must be strong. He must endure. Like Hercules, he must dream of the hero’s welcome and do everything it takes to be found deserving.
I am certain that each man, in his own words, embodies another verse of this amazing song:
And I won’t look back, I can go the distance
And I’ll stay on track, No I won’t accept defeat
It’s an uphill slope, but I won’t lose hope
‘Til I go the distance and my journey is complete.
This is my inspiration to keep fighting.
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