Superhero Feet

I’ve been thinking about superheros lately. Most likely because my little boy is fascinated with them. He is so fascinated that he now prefers to be called Spiderman or Iron Man rather than his name. The archetype of the superhero is captivating, not just to little boys, but also to society at large. The idea of an ordinary person containing an extra-ordinary power and using it anonymously for the benefit of all, it sparks something in our imaginations.

One way to look at the superhero is that it comes from our wish to be rescued, and to have all our problems solved. Another would be that we wish we had the power to save others and solve big problems. Maybe it is a mix of both. To be helped, to be helpful, it reaches back to a time when we were small and wanted to be big.

A challenge of the superhero archetype is that it is one half of a duality. In order to have heros, we also have to have villans. In reality, there are few villans out there. Global warming is caused by the collective action of billions of people over hundreds of years. It is hard to think of a superhero that could fight that one.

The problems we face today are complex, where the causes are many and it is not always obvious which ones to fight first. And maybe fighting is the wrong approach in the first place. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

I consider Dr. King to be one of our times greatest heros. While he may not have seen much change in his lifetime, great change did, and is, taking place.

3. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights act...

Image via Wikipedia

He had the insight to see that the giant problem of racism and inequality is not one great villan, it is accumulated through many, many small deeds of villany by ordinary people. He inspired people to look at the things that are uncomfortable within themselves and within society, and ultimately to change their behaviour.

So perhaps all the problems we face in the world can be solved in two ways: leaders with the courage to sing a hymn of peace, when the whole world is chanting ‘war’; and ordinary heros, like you and me, who are willing to choose kindness over selfishness.

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