In this chapter, Meylyne learns that the Tusked-Lions—creatures she has always feared—are not the savages she was brought up to believe. If anything, the royals are the ones at fault with all their secret-keeping and suppression of those that threaten them. Meylyne takes the knowledge in stride, saying,
“I’m starting to think anything is possible.”
This is a key attribute in any Hero’s Journey—the hero’s ability to learn and grow with experience. The hero then returns to their “ordinary world,” armed with knowledge that they use to better their world.
For most of us, however, un-learning previously-held beliefs is hard to do. As young children, we absorb information like sponges. The lessons we learn from our parents, their friends and our teachers are presented to us as the truth, and we take it at face value. As we get older, we learn to form our own opinions but still some of those early lessons are difficult to dislodge. Even when we think we’ve unlearned them, they linger in our unconscious. It’s altogether possible that if Meylyne ever makes it back home, and tells people how good and wise the Tusked-Lions are, no one will believe her.
“Why should we?” they might say. “We haven’t had your experience.”
True. But they have never experienced the Tusked-Lions at all. Every belief they hold about them, they’ve learned from hearsay! They could be open to the new information, but instead they stick with what they first learned.
In part, this is because most people don’t like ambiguity. It’s easier to think of issues as black or white, with no pesky shades of gray. For example, if a man robs a store of a loaf of bread, it’s easy to say, “he’s bad.” But what if you learn that he has a sick, starving child at home and his child needs the bread to live? Is he still bad?