In the first film, Odin exiles Thor to teach him to take personal responsibility and mature in his understanding of leadership. In the second film, Dark World, Odin, inadvertently teaches Thor to take responsibility even if it requires dissent and disobedience of the powers that be (Odin).
However in Ragnarok, we learn that Odin has kept a huge secret. He has masked a dark time in the history of Asgard. At the end of his life, Odin must clear his consciousness and tell his sons about Hela his daughter, the Goddess of Death.
We learn from Odin what happens when our leaders mask or fake personal responsibility. It leads to destruction of everything that you created. Pure and simple.
Destruction of Asgard
With Odin’s death, Hela returns to Asgard. She is shocked that no one knows who she is. Odin has kept his secret well. As she walks into the thrown room, she notices that Odin has covered over her history. She removes the current ceiling to reveal a fresco celebrating her at Odin’s side.
As the Valkerie reminds Thor later in the film: “That’s what is wrong with Asgard: the thrown, the secrets, the whole golden sham.”
Hela destroys all that Odin has built and is hungry to destroy all Nine Realms.
Thor must allow Ragnarok (the destruction of Asgard) to happen in order to contain and stop Hela. Odin’s secret leads to the fulfillment of the prophesy — the destruction of all he worked to create.
Masking Personal Responsibility: a counter-protest
I recently attended a rally for #FamiliesBelongTogether. It was organized by one of the senators here in NM. It was a very good rally, with each politician speaking about the need for an end to family separation, as well as positive and just immigration reform.
What struck me most was two individuals who stood vigil with a sign painted on a sheet. It was calling out the fact that the senator accepted campaign dollars from the private prison industry making money from the White House’s unethical immigration policies. They did not shout or yell. They just stood holding their sign. They would turn every so often so that others could see it.
Some rally attenders engaged them. Some were curious about what the sign meant. Others were unhappy about a counter-protest. I watched.
Odin's lesson for us
As I think about Odin’s secrets that undermined his ability to be an effective leader, I think about our current government from the White House to the halls of Congress and Senate. There is a masking of personal responsibility across the board, regardless of political party. This masking of responsibility is creating a moral vacuum that is destroying that vision that created the United States of America.
These two young people had the courage to call for the senator to take personal responsibility. They were asking him to transparent as a leader. They were calling out the dissonance caused by accepting campaign contributions from a company that is participating in unethical behavior.
How long will we as citizens allow for our leaders to mask or fake their personal responsibility? Is it not time to call all our leadership to serve with greater integrity?
This for me is the lesson of Odin.
In order for what we create to not be destroyed, we must serve and lead with integrity.
Integrity demands authentic personal responsibility.