Many years ago, I wrote a column for a local newspaper down in Virginia. The following entry was one of those articles I once submitted for publishing. With some minor updates, I have re-printed it here as I feel it’s message of positivity is relevant given the state of our world right now.
X-Men: First Class, The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, The Wolverine, The Avengers…These are just a few of the many superhero movies that are hitting the theaters in recent years. And that list is only continuing to grow. Each of them have been huge box office successes and generated an enormous amount of revenue from both ticket and DVD sales. So why are superheroes so popular lately? Well I have a theory, one that centers on the child in all of us.
Everyone has their own journey of what it was like to grow up. Throughout my life, I have met many who have endured as difficult of childhoods as I have, if not worse. From being physically beaten, to having suffered from family incest, to receiving mental and emotional abuse by their parents or other family members, to moms and dads that were never around, to never even having a mom or dad to start with and being forced to grow up in foster homes, the list is painfully endless for the stories I’ve heard. The one consistency I have found between all of these people who dealt with harsh childhoods including my own, is that each of us learned to create very early on in life, our own world of fantasies. It was our way of tuning out what our eyes were seeing and what our bodies were experiencing. It was our safe harbor, our escape.
As a child, I secretly fantasized about being a superhero. I wanted to have super strength to defend myself from the bullies who picked on me incessantly. I wanted to have super speed or the ability to fly so that I could get away as quick as possible when my parents were fighting. I even wanted to have the ability to read people’s minds so that I could anticipate what family members were thinking so that I didn’t end up saying something that might set someone off and end in a form of punishment. As I grew older and stronger, in both a physical sense as well as an emotional and mental one, I gained my own independence and found less of a need to continue creating this fantasy world. But the lure of having superpowers has never fully faded.
In recent years, when I find myself fantasizing about having them, sometimes I put a lot of thought together as to why I still think about them so much. While I may not be in a broken home anymore that led me to create these fantasy worlds, I realize I have a greater family, one that consists of billions of brothers and sisters. And one that is just as aching and hurt as my own family was so many years ago. Just look at the state of the world today! It doesn’t take much to realize it is in dire straits. Poverty continues to increase. Sickness continues to spread. There are wars about to break out or already raging in multiple countries. Alcohol and drug addictions continue to increase and are leading to more violence as well as the spread of disease. More and more children are growing up in broken homes. Gangs continue to thrive as disillusioned kids look for social acceptance. Rape. Murder. Terrorism. Anyone can see this horror by simply just glancing at the front page of a paper or tuning into a morning or evening news program. I know there are others out there like me who would just like this madness to go away. We attempt to ignore and tune it all out, but unfortunately we can’t because it’s everywhere. So we continue to hope that the world will produce heroes who will provide a reprieve from the misery that seems to be surrounding every corner of the globe. Unfortunately, the heroes from our childhood fantasies don’t exist yet, at least not in the form that most comic books have portrayed.
So in droves, I, and many others, look for a reprieve from the growing terror and head to the local multiplex to watch the latest superhero flick where a hero risks their life to protect the world from a villain who is causing destruction to people, cities, countries, or even the whole planet. And while we watch these films, we find we are able to suppress for several hours any fears within us over the state of the planet. And when the hero in the movie ends up saving the day, we often leave the theater feeling a little more happy and safe inside. But sadly that bubble usually bursts not too long after when we see the latest news report covering another tragedy. There is hope in all of this though. There is a good side of the coin to look at.
While none of us may be a hero with powers like Superman, all of us do have our own gifts that we were born with and each of these in their own way can be used to create love and peace in this world. Whether you are a writer, a musician, an actor, an artist, a chef, a teacher, a gardener, a seamster, a pottery maker, or whatever your creative outlet is, just place all the love and passion into it you can and know that someone, somewhere, is going to have a positive life changing experience because of it. Think about how the following creative works have spread love to so many people: Harry Potter and Twilight, “Don’t Worry Be Happy” and “We Are The World”, the Mona Lisa and Starry Night. No one truly knows what positive impact their gifts will have at their time of creation.
So I encourage each of you to take a moment today, breathe, and set some time aside to engage in that creative side of yours. Place your heart and soul in your work and trust and believe it will make a difference in someone’s life for the better. While you may not have super abilities like the Avengers, your creative talents are already making you into a superhero. Whatever your gifts are, God has blessed you with them. All you need to know is that they can and will help this world become a happier, more peaceful, and definitely more loving place.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson