I sometimes wondered if given the right circumstances during my high school life, I could have chosen the field of psychology for my college degree. I always enjoyed observing people, spending time to understand them, draw out my own hypotheses and analysis, and make lessons from all these.
One particular observation is what I personally would love to call ‘The Bernardo Carpio Complex’.
Most of us probably still remember who that guy is from Filipino literature class (though it still is debatable how original the story is, but that’s for someone else to talk about). He’s the Samson of Philippine folkore, sans the rebonded long hair. And similarly, his story also ended in a similar fashion – except he didn’t bring the whole mountains down.
One of our pastors and a very good friend/counselor, Ptr Bayani Esguerra, described it as similar to the Messiah Complex. And for a good reason: Carpio’s motivation for choosing to be stuck between a rock and a hard place (literally) was due to his supposed destiny (or the people’s expectation) to become his race’s savior. But he failed to realize the trap that was set out for him. And that was the end for him.
I strongly believe that many talented and gifted people inevitably suffers from a Bernardo Carpio Complex at least once in their life. Well-meant help, carrying other people’s burden, accepting tasks and making sacrifices – the haunting words of Ben Parker from Spiderman 1 somehow reverberates through our consciousness:
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
I myself strongly believe in that notion – that our God-given talents and skills are meant for something more than ourselves, like bringing glory and honor to our Creator, as well as being a blessing to other people. But there comes a point where we have to realize that being engrossed in comtemporary neo-heroism often brings more damage than benefit (like when superheroes destroy city blocks just to defeat a villain).
Think for a while: have you ever accepted a certain task out of sheer sense of duty, then another one comes along and you seem to have no choice but to take it because ‘only you can do it’ or ‘you seem to do it better’. While these may not be quite wrong as it is, it can become a trap in such a way that later on, we end up stuck with a difficult dilemma. Just like Bernardo Carpio – who some people believe is still stuck there somewhere in Montalban, Rizal. Stuck and helpless, only causing tremors each time he tries to break free.
I do not criticize the Bernardo Carpios of our age and time. But we all have our own little weaknesses: a lapse of judgment, a lack of wisdom, a difficulty with time management, a confusion of priorities, a little bit of emotional stability, and so on. I believe that with great power comes great responsibility – but I also believe that the higher we get, the harder the fall will be.
Being a Bernardo Carpio is complex. Save yourself the tears – trust Him first, the True Savior of all. He saved you and me from sin and death, so what’s to stop him from saving you from our stupid decisions and mistakes?