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Revisiting Global Heroes

Author Brad Meltzer is quoted as saying this: "“We are all ordinary. We are all boring. We are all spectacular. We are all shy. We are all bold. We are all heroes. We are all helpless. It just depends on the day.”

 

Yes, the films “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” will wash over the imaginations of movie watchers this year, but heroes need to last longer and grow bigger. Our politicians are not heroes as of March 2018. They are growing smaller and are creating divisive narratives that will not last. Our first responders can be heroes, but many will say they are ordinary and that it depends on the day.

 

Heroes, though, come near us when things seem out of control. Since love is not just an idea or an emotion, but a physical action, people who truly care deeply for us help to shape and frame our understanding of eros or agape or philos or good, old-fashioned love stories. I want someone to slide their hand in to mine and take on the world with me. If lovers lie with one another, make love, and each knows that the world may not understand them, but damn it, the world will need to deal with them. A connection has been made at a deeper level. Love is that thing that elevates us to act like heroes to one another and sometimes to the watching world.

To love the world is to confront it and this will sound and look heroic. To love the world with another is to confront the insecurities in each and draw ever closer. If you know me better or more intimately, will you love me  We now live in the tension of knowing far more than we have ever known about the world, with access to information across the globe coming to us at broadband speed, so we cannot plead ignorance. We can only act or not act. In the midst of Hollywood’s recent explosion of films dedicated to superheroes and comic book figures, Roger Ebert, in reviewing The Dark Knight, observes: “Something fundamental seems to be happening in the upper realms of the comic-book movie. “Spider-Man II” (2004) may have defined the high point of the traditional film based on comic-book heroes. A movie like the new “Hellboy II” allows its director free rein for his fantastical visions. But now “Iron Man” and even more so “The Dark Knight” move the genre into deeper waters. They realize, as some comic-book readers instinctively do, that these stories touch on deep fears, traumas, fantasies, and hopes.”[2] And in an age of globalization, our “deep fears, traumas, fantasies, and hopes,” are shared across cultures, generations, and mediums at breakneck speed. If it’s true that we are increasingly becoming interconnected and interdependent on a global scale, then can it be true that we are now in search of heroes that will connect and rescue us all? Our heroes, now, must be people or figures who can not only transcend their context, but cultures as well. In other words, our heroes must be part of something bigger than themselves and challenge us to values that are shared beyond our own immediate context. Our heroes can't just save us, they must act like they care.

Can we draw ever closer to one another and still love more, not less?

Can we face the darkness of the world and love more, not less?

The heroes we become or the heroes we need will remind us that sacrificial love is the life we want to stick around after our storms have passed.


 

[2] Roger Ebert: “No Joke, Batman,” Chicago Sun-Times, July 16, 2008.

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As a University director of study abroad in Central Texas, ideas and stories matter. These reflections are for pilgrims making progress.


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