When Superheroes Come to Life

There are two things I want to speak about. Two things that are opposites, but connected none the less.  Both have to do with ordinary people stepping up to do extraordinary things. The first is a reflection of what I saw this past weekend at SC Comicon (my first Con), while the second are some thoughts on how ordinary people can step up to change the world.

STK_8157 (edited)

I spent the past weekend up in Greenville reconnecting with old friends from college and hanging out with new friends I’ve met on this journey. I spent hours wandering through the aisles talking to vendors and artists. I saw heroes of all types.

We are captivated by the stories shared of men who rose above others through force and power. Those who can bend steel and wield the weapons of gods. We stand in awe of stories of warriors who rise again after each death, who wear suits of armor that give them the strength of a hundred men. The tales we know the worlds of Marvel and DC Comics through movies and images that occupy our culture, and those lesser known (but just as vibrant and beautiful) stories of Valiant Comics and those of lesser known origins.

These are the superheroes that rise above all men, and struggle with one it means to still be human. To live beyond their years and yet, still live. To find purpose.

I think we love comics because they reveal what we desire, to rise up and stand where so many have fallen. I believe that each of us want that opportunity to be something more than human.

We cannot all be immortal warriors. We cannot all have the power of flight. Or possess ancient powers that make us like gods. Or armor. Or skills in fighting. Or even the will to fight. But something we all are capable of is compassion.

When I started night shift, several people told me that I needed to have thick skin to survive. During a conversation several nights ago, someone reminded me of this again, stating that to work in this dispatch center. My comment caught them off guard when I simply asked: “Do you need thick skin because of the work we do or the people that we work with?”

It’s harsh to hear, but we, as a society, have an issue. It’s not something that people realize that they are doing, because we are so used to it. It’s an ugly word that everyone wants to deny. It’s bullying.

Picture this: You are sitting with some of your coworkers and somebody makes a mistake. You know it, they know it, everyone knows it. And somebody makes the snide comment; “They are so stupid!” And everyone laughs. And you feel uncomfortable.

Or picture this: One of your teammates makes fun of another member of the team because they are new. Or young. Or introverted. Or just quieter than everyone else.

The old saying goes “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Unfortunately, this is an absolute and complete lie. Words create wounds that slice deeper than any any eye can see. They strike into our hearts and cut our souls, spreading darkness like an infection. Words kill dreams just as easily as they shed tears.

When we make fun of people, of our teammates, we hurt everyone. If we talk down to one another, then who do we turn to to build one another up? If I hear a teammate curse the mistakes of someone, I ask myself what they will say when I, the new person on the shift, make a mistake? How do I know that they are not talking about me when I leave the room?

Harsh words. Inappropriately joking about one another. Cursing ones mistakes. Talking about people behind their backs. This is the face of bullying.

I know what you are thinking: “What does this have to do with Comicon?”

Heroes are made when you make a choice
– Hero, by Superchick

Every single one of can make a choice to stand. We can sit there and say nothing. Do nothing. To remain silent. To take it. Or we can make a difference. We can be heroes.

We may not have the strength or the power to tear down the walls around us, but we can save a life nonetheless.

I think one of the things that draws us to superheroes is that many of them wear masks. They hide their real personalities beneath strips of cloth and panels that make up their masks. It is the shield that we do not have.

When we step up to be heroes, when we step up to save a life, everyone will know who we really are. And that is a beautiful thing.

::::Side Note: Go listen to Hero by Superchick, and you will realize how much you could change the world::::

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