I was woken up this morning by my young son Rolando, who rushed into the bedroom and landed on me, one arm outstretched in the classic Superman pose!
“Dad, am I a super-hero?”
“Yes you are.” I answered.
“Which one?”, Rolando asked me.
“You’re my super-hero, of course, son!”
This got me thinking about the whole super-hero concept, beyond the simple struggles of Good vs. Bad, Right Vs Wrong or Weak vs Strong and how we can all, in some way, become super-heroes.
“Do you mean that I have superpowers?” you may ask.
Well, strength isn’t about lifting a plane off the ground or breaking a hole through a wall with your bare hands. True strength lies first in helping yourself, through your own self-development, to become the best you can be. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Then, real strength is found in helping others find their own. It is strength of character, being resilient in the face of hardship and standing firm for what you believe.
If you really want to be invincible (and even most super-heroes can’t put a claim on this one!), you need to take care of your health. Experts say that if we kept our blood pressure and cholesterol under control, our insulin sensitivity high and didn’t smoke, our average life expectancy would increase by 10 or more years compared to those who don’t. So you should exercise as often as possible, eat lots of fruit and vegetables and prioritize sleep and rest.
What about another “real” super-power like being invisible?
Being invisible to others is actually very easy but it’s not always a good thing. After all, do you like it when people behave as if you aren’t there? And sometimes we all close our eyes when there is something that we would rather not see. On the other hand, as the US academic Mark D. White has noted, “Invisibility has tremendous benefits for normal people and super-heroes alike.” For a super-hero it may be all about catching criminals who can’t see them but in today’s real world, there is so much emphasis on “showing off” and being noticed that it is sometimes good to keep a low profile. The philanthropists we admire most are actually the ones we don’t know about because they help others, give to charity and do good deeds without making a lot of noise – they are invisible.
“All super-heroes have a mission, usually to make the world a better place. What’s mine?”
It should be the same as that of every other super-hero, of course. And if you think that the world is so full of problems that you can’t possibly make a contribution, think again. As Mother Teresa said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
And if you really want to change the world, you need to start with yourself. Just remember the words of the Michael Jackson song “Man in the Mirror”:
“If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make that change.”
If you treat other people with kindness, you can rest assured that, in their minds, you will be a real super-hero.
My son is still too young to understand most of the above but if, after all my explanations, he were to ask me, “What if I don’t become a super-hero after all, Dad?” I already know what I would tell him:
“Even if you don’t realise your dreams, son, you will always be my super-hero. That’s what happens when someone loves you unconditionally, dearest Rolando!”