Tuesday, August 4, 2009
There's a cynicism in culture that seeks to keep people rooted to the ground: to keep them from moving beyond the muck of average life. They say that morals are relative; that life is unchangeable, yet you should make it yours. They say that tradition has no place, and that social rules are mere barriers perpetuated by an aging and unenlightened society of hate-mongering elders. In this world of semi-anarchy, Superman stands as a symbol that refuses to sway in the face of social collapse. The superficial onlooker would assume that Superman is an unrealistic, outdated, and boring cultural icon.
When I was five years old, I first saw Superman on TV, played by Dean Cain.
For a five-year-old living in the 90s, that show was freakin' amazing. Even at that age, I was enthralled by the show's themes of justice, kindness, and laser vision.
At one point, when I was nine, I came to the realization that superheroes' abilities are physical representations of their values, beliefs, and personal strengths. Superman's amazing powers are a reflection of strength of character, and it is his character that makes him "super," not his physical powers. I realized then that Superman was truly an ideal: a representation of all that is good, just, and loving. Anyone can be "Superman," merely by choosing to make the right decisions and genuinely caring for people.
It's been said that love is a choice, not just a feeling.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
If that doesn't describe Superman, I don't know what does. Superman isn't a great person because he has powers that put him above other people; he's a great person because he was raised in the American midwest by God-fearing farmers who taught him the value of life and the importance of doing the right thing--even when it's not easy. I hold to these same beliefs, and therefore empathize a bit with the character of Superman.
Superman is the last survivor of a long-dead planet; the only one of his kind. Every one of us has felt that way at some point in our lives: alone, rejected, misunderstood, etc. There are few of us who do not have multiple "identities," striving to be honest with some and keep important secrets from others. All of us have certain desires that seem unattainable, yet strive forward with the hope that one day our struggles will not be in vain. Superman knows that keeping every living being on the Earth safe is an impossible task, yet still he fights on.
Superman represents the best we can be: someone who always makes the right decision, and is unwaveringly caring.
Even more than that, Superman can fly. He's not stuck to the ground; he can fly above and away from it all. He's not simply restricted by his moral code; he's freed by it, as we all should be. Doing the right thing doesn't hold us back, it makes us better. Yes, there are sacrifices to be made, but at the end of it all is hope, joy, and love.
And heat vision. =D