I have been thinking a lot about how fragile the order of things is since yesterday. Scrolling through the headlines and photos from the Boston Marathon bombing, it is easy to feel scared and uncertain. In recent years, we’ve had many heartbreaking reminders that our personal safety cannot be guaranteed, and the landscape shifted again yesterday. Yet in the process of reorienting ourselves, I hope that we can find a way to focus not on the fear, rather on the immense body of proof that says we can and must rely on each other – that we are inherently good and are made up of countless men and women who run toward danger to save lives every day. Just as the North Star has guided many a traveler toward home, so should we allow the good in people around us to bring comfort when we are feeling helpless. And if you don’t believe me, even Mr. Rogers (men in cardigans don’t lie), is quoted as saying, “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
So it’s in that spirit that I’d like to share my own personal Polaris. It involves men in ill-fitting spandex (as do most things that make me happy) – yet I find it really touching. I realize the spandex comment could take us any number of places, including several beaches in Europe, but oooobviously, I’m talking about…real-life superheroes!
You’ve probably read about them in your local news – men and women who dress up like superheroes and fight crime and injustice in their own communities. We have several of them right here in Gotham – regular working stiffs by day and vigilantes by night! Some protect the homeless, some target the war on drugs, and some are simply trying to teach people a little compassion.
And while they may not be taken all that seriously and it is certainly hard to quantify their impact on crime, to me it’s more about a state of mind. These men and woman believe in protecting those who cannot protect themselves. Forget super powers (I checked – none of them actually has one), they believe that there’s an epic strength inside each of us, and that we have the power to do herculean things with it.
And so, as we get our bearings again in the wake of yesterday’s terror, I’m going to take a moment to think about the superheroes in my life. I am surrounded by them – the gorgeously big-hearted women in my Arts & Media program, my mom who is fighting cancer with the wrath of a league of superheroes, and a very good friend who is – simply put – the finest kind of human there is. While there are very complicated politics at play in what happened yesterday and they, too, require thoughtful reflection, it is very UNcomplicated to take the time to recognize all the positive things happening around us.
I would LOVE to hear who your superheroes are and why. I think it would make everyone feel a little better today. Please tell me in the comments below!
And here’s a link to 2011′s Real-Life Superhero Project - just reading some of the superhero profiles makes me feel like putting on a breast plate and goggles right now, so if you’ll excuse me…