“We can be heroes, just for one day. We can be us…”
A year or so ago we lost David Bowie. He was a writer of songs, powerful and vibrant. Entertaining, to be sure, but so much of his music had a deep, intangible quality that could motivate and touch the listener. Perhaps his most inspirational track was Heroes, which was about two seemingly average people overcoming adverse circumstances. Persevering to do the best they can, and becoming a beacon of hope in the process, and an instrument of positive change.
A week or so ago we lost Detective Steven McDonald. He was an officer in the NYPD. Husband, father, passionate sports fan. And deeply Catholic. Though many would consider him to be a victim of circumstance, I doubt very much that Mr. McDonald would number among them. While the bullet that he took in the line of duty rendered him a quadriplegic, Det. McDonald stood no less tall over the following thirty years. His strength of character towered and he served as a powerful inspiration to all. I believe it was a combination of his faith and character that allowed him to forgive the criminal who trespassed against him. In a world where the Avengers and the Justice League are the heroes of the day, a man in a wheelchair rose above them all.
One of our MYP teens, Christopher, has a shirt that says “Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.” It’s funny, because Batman is awesome. But Batman is a very rich man with a very deep grudge. His real power is his inability to be at peace with himself. I love Batman, but I don’t really want to be him. I want to be me. More specifically, I want to be the best possible version of me. The me who recognizes that it doesn’t matter what circumstances have been thrown in my way. I want to be the me that uses all of his God-given potential. I think God wants that too. I believe that I can do it. I believe that you can do it, too. We are only as weak as we think we are.
The Incredibles is a great movie. It’s about superheroes, but that isn’t why I mention it. The villain, Syndrome, hates and resents powered people. His ultimate goal is to render them irrelevant, by giving everyone access to wondrous abilities. “Everyone can be super” he opines sadistically. “And when everyone’s super, no one will be.” I believe in that goal, actually. I think everyone can be super. A world where everyone is equal because we have all reached our maximum potential? Sign me up. I don’t think I will ever live to see that day, but I do think humanity will get there someday. Because that’s how God made us. It’s in there somewhere, if we can only find it. In the meantime, we can only look to the inspirations that we have been given, and try to give a little bit, ourselves.
“We can be heroes, forever and ever. What do you say?”