There is a great graphic novel…sequential art piece…called Kingdom Come. The premise is that the Humans on Earth have become dependent on the superheroes–Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, etc, even though they complain about that dependence, hating and fearing the heroes. One day, the superheroes are called away to deal with some catastrophe somewhere else in the multiverse, and are not around when the Humans actually need them, and there are consequences. When they return, the Humans are enraged at the heroes for leaving to help all of creation instead of being around to meet the needs of the Humans who hate and fear them. The heroes are finally fed up, and retreat into their civilian identities, living out their lives unnoticed and unavailable to those who have such mixed feelings about them. Over time, new heroes emerge, with more consequences…
…leading to a pivotal crisis, leading the superheroes to wrestle with the question of whether or not to come back and take part, or just let the Humans deal with the consequences of their actions.
Barack Obama spoke in Illinois last week. Rarely have I been so relieved to hear the voice of a public figure, let alone a former President (although Berkeley Breathed and Bill Watterston come to mind). When he ran for office, he was completely clear that he could not…preside…alone, that he needed us on board, that we were a team. I heard him say that and understood completely. I had been in a similar position, myself. Not on anything like that scale, but in one fiefdom or another which could so easily have been a functional community of folks working together to create something amazing.
For all of that, when he revealed his humanity, making decisions I did not approve of, I turned away and let go of my good intentions to help him in his goals. Even so, when I heard him speak in those days, I really felt like he was one of us, someone I could easily go for a walk with, or talk with over tea, solving the problems of the world.
Hearing him speak last week, both at John McCain’s funeral (that seems so long ago), and in the longer speech in Illinois, it felt to me like a giant had awoken, a superhero had cast off their civilian garb and revealed themselves.
He is, of course, a Human (I assume), with all that that entails. He is saying similar things to what he said before: don’t wait for a hero, a savior–be that hero. Be the person who stands up and does the right thing because it is the right thing, because you’ll sleep better at night having done it, because you see in the eyes of that caged child the eyes of your own child, or maybe you see something of your own humanity in that little one.
It is being reported that Trump and Co. are working to build internment camps for children. Some are saying we have not done this since World War II, others that we never have, not solely for children. Is that the outrage which will stir us to action? Is it the appointment of a Supreme Court justice who seems to be actively perjuring himself? Is it enough to march, or do we need to do more?
I’ll leave it to you to learn the decisions of the heroes in Kingdom Come, but will offer a question…what would it take for us to be heroes, peaceful heroes, waking giants? Barack Obama is most certainly a hero, and his words are powerful and moving. He is also a Human, with weaknesses, foibles, ego, a desire to see his children succeed in their lives, to leave a legacy behind which will inspire them, and us, to remember him fondly. Progressives are creating what is being referred to as a “Rainbow Wave”, across the country. How do we help? Barack Obama speaking is important, what can the rest of us do? How do we co-lead, with them?
Who are your heroes? Why are they heroes, to you? What makes a hero?