One of our most enduring narratives in American mythology is this notion of the Alpha Male. The Alpha male is the preeminent, dominant, ideal, and high achieving sex symbol guy that is the prototype of everything we desire and who is able to embody our most cherished beliefs about what constitutes the good life. As for polar opposites it would be a disservice to speak of the Alpha without reference to its contrary, the undesirable and low status Omega dude.
We want our guys on the right side of the ledger: as profit, asset, credit, and equity. If we can’t find him, well, we might as well invent him and endow him with those traits that we covet for ourselves but we are too shy to admit. So goes the legend of the invincible superheros larger than life who fill our screens and films and vicariously accomplish the impossible tasks of saving the world, the nuclear codes, common sense, beautiful women, and in the process, winning accolades and adulation right and left.
Those other guys at the end of the line are entirely disposable, thank you very much. Losers can stay at the bottom of the lader as a reminder for us kings at the top that descending and the lower evolutionary chain doesn’t fit our agendas and egos and do not serve our best interests and therefore, those little dudes are examples of what we civilized and polished guys ought never to do. It is a survival of the fittest world. Eat or get eaten. Be strong, be rich, score and get laid at every opportunity, grab and be selfish, set up your throne and have the slaves fetch you what is due to you. The world is better served by discriminating, dividing, and conquering. To hell with weakness and wimps and second and last places. Real men don’t shed tears. The world was made for top guns, pumped up muscles, and Hollywood looks.
Christianity didn’t start from a position of strength. The guy who got the ball rolling got himself executed as a seditious rebel. The thing we don’t say in our status saturated society about such guys is that, “oh, well, he was a nice, accomplished fellow after all. He truly was up to something good.” They would not say those things back then, and surely nobody would say those things now about apparent losers. Winding up in death row is never an item you want to list on your resume. We don’t have Nobel prizes for having been fried by lethal injection. Because he was rejected as the Messiah of Israel Jesus must have felt that his vocation had all been a pipe dream, a mirage, an illusion of a defeated man who tried his best but was nevertheless misguided. But was that Jesus’ actual reaction?
Winding up in a position of weakness was all part of the plan. Jesus went against the grain of everything his society held dear and eschew with contempt. They were looking for a conquering Messiah. He gave them a crucified one. They were looking for a prince in shining armor, he presented himself as a naked lamb bleeding on his march to the slaughter.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last
Christ can hold both roles in tension and resolve their contradictions. First and last are opposite extremes. But Jesus reconciles them. He shows us that strength can derive from weakness, chaos, and death. Christ came out as a winner because he was willing to display weakness and vulnerability. The dignity of our humanity does not always lie in the infallible execution of our strengths, wits, and industry, but also in our ability to self-abase and self-sacrifice for the sake of a greater good. Christ is the ultimate Alpha Male precisely because he assumed the role of victim, sacrifice, and lostness. Christ models for us how the Alpha male can also be an Omega. By adopting the least favorable strategy, he managed to be tops. An invincible warrior is not always the best one because he might lack sympathy. He has never lost. He has never cried. Jesus didn’t do that. He did cry, and he did suffer. He can sympathize and feel our anguish. The wild lion of the jungle is not anybody’s friend. But the lion who is like a lamb is the kind of character that is approachable, loveable, and accessible.