The Asuras fighting the Devas.
The Christians and Muslims proclaim the struggle between God and Satan at the battle of Armageddon, and want to convert as many people as possible so that their God may hold their souls as property. The Hindus proclaim the struggle between their gods and the “ego” embodied by Man and the Asuras, and pray for the eventual . The Buddhists proclaim the struggle of salvation and enlightenment, and the hope that eventually all beings will be saved. The materialistic atheists take their lack of belief in God and the soul and extrapolate it as a struggle against all religious and spiritual belief, guided by the desire to convince others that any spiritual or religious belief is stupid. The leftists proclaim their struggle against corporate America and go about trying to get people to “wake up” – to come around to their viewpoint. The anarchists proclaim their struggle against “the system” and also want people to “wake up”. The feminists proclaim their struggle against the “patriarchy”, and want people to join them in their struggle. The rightists proclaim their struggle to “make America great again”, and will never tire of followers – Donald Trump is not the first right-wing politician to claim this as his goal, and he may not be the last. The communists proclaim their struggle for their ideal “stateless society”. The fascists proclaim the struggle for their perverted notions of purity. Hell I think there are even some in Satanic, Luciferian, or generally Left Hand Path circles who prefer to emphasize a great struggle for liberation from the cosmos and its God. And still there are always the type of people who wish to lead the people to march in the name of progress, against the old and unfashionable world order.
For a lot of people the world of Man is locked in a struggle of light versus darkness, the old versus the new, the rich versus the poor, science versus belief, materialism versus spirituality, theism versus atheism, the left wing versus the right wing, male gender interests versus female gender interests, one racial interest against another, capitalism versus socialism (or versus communism depending on who you ask), liberalism versus conservatism, war versus peace, love versus hate, and many other struggles. And the majority of the time, it’s believed that one must prevail over the other – and anyone on the other side is surely misguided or evil. If it feels like you’re either part of a revolution or just fodder for the system, you should know that something’s wrong. Everyone’s got a vision for the world, an ideal to follow, and for most people it’s always about an ideal for other people to live under and they’re always looking for followers; their cause is useless without them.
To be honest, I think the idea of a great struggle goes back even before the establishment of monotheistic belief. You tend to notice many conflicts found in the older polytheistic mythologies. The Aesir versus the Jotunn in Norse mythology, the Egyptian solar deity Ra or Amun-Ra versus the serpent of annihilation Apep, the Olympians versus the Titans in Greek mythology, among other examples. It may have been that in old polytheistic traditions, that conflict was a little more balanced, or simply representative of natural processes. But of course, religion and politics march on. Even then though, sometimes it kind of seems like one side is supposed to win out over the other, just like in today’s narratives of the great struggle.
In a way, I’m reminded of the Law and Chaos conflict. Even as a usually pro-Chaos person, I can come around to the fact the struggle between Law and Chaos even leaves little room for the individual to do much other than follow the figureheads of the Chaos faction and then ultimately enact their vision – though that might be because of real-life figures reminding me of some of the worst aspects of the Chaos factions in the games, some of which I’ve been willing to overlook in the past. But even the Neutral fans can be like that, insisting that their way is correct (usually citing canonicity, which is weird because -in my books at least – the individual’s relation to the story supersedes established canon in the MegaTen series). And even in some of the games, or at least more recent games, taking the Neutral path doesn’t always feel like asserting individualism (like a lot of people claim) – you’re still following someone else’s cause or following someone else’s orders (Stephen in SMTIV and Commander Gore in Strange Journey).
If I have a struggle, it’s the struggle to fulfill my own ideals, my own convictions, and to preserve my own liberty – without lapsing into herd mentality or unhealthy extremism. I will fulfill my ideal, and carry my Reason, without imposing on the liberty of others. The cause of the continued survival and advancement of freedom is the only cause I want to be a part of – even then I can imagine groups of people claiming the cause of freedom, and then actually fulfilling the exact opposite as part of their dynamic as a group (but hey, that’s often what happens when people think they can achieve liberty by promoting group or herd mentality).
I say, be who you are on your own terms, and don’t just someone else’s struggle if you don’t sympathize with them, and even if you do try to make it about your own fulfillment – or at least, your own relation to a cause.