Mythological gods were humanity’s way of magnifying ourselves – exaggerating our flaws, our passions, our ideals. In antiquity, these gods represented who we were and what we found value in.
Today, we have superheroes.
Superheroes represent the best of us and sometimes the worst of us: when ideals clash in violence, when passions detonate like bombs, when civil debate turns to civil war. But we watch and we read and we discuss superheroes because we love them. We love to see what these core human concepts look like blown up in epic scope. What, if given extraordinary power and ability, we could do to change the world.
But we can change the world. We don’t need to be space aliens or sorcerers, we don’t need to be struck by lightning.
Learn from what makes our modern mythology something we cling to and use to represent ourselves. Learn what makes these characters on a page or a screen something we hunger to be. What makes a superhero? They save lives. They help others. They speak truth to power. They get up from when they’ve been thrown down into despair.
We love superheroes not only for their perfection, but also for their flaws. Because they are like us, because they are us. No one wants to be the villain. We do what we think is right. We plant ourselves like a tree beside what we think is the river of truth.
But think of what makes a hero. Giving in to fear doesn’t make a hero. Fear of change, fear of your fellow humans, fear of something different, it doesn’t make a hero. Hate and blind, deaf rage don’t make heroes.
Heroes journey. This is the soul of storytelling; this is the soul of humanity. A hero’s journey is one of growth and change and learning about the world beyond. How many superhero origin stories start with a character who’s weak or arrogant or selfish or scared? How many of our favorite tales of these characters are when they confront their demons or their mistakes and overcome? They grow. They get better. They don’t give up or give in, not in the face of fear.
Learn from the stories we tell each other. Learn from the knowledge, the values. Do the hard work. Change and grow and fight and save. Redeem and rescue. Give salvation and grant salvation.
We watch and we read and we discuss superheroes because we love them. Because all of us have these heroes inside.
Be not just the hero you love, but be the hero your neighbor loves. Be the hero I love.
I’ll be the hero you love.