Popular culture is inundated with Super Heroes. D.C. comic re-writes abound. Most Super Heroes emerged as a result of some societal trauma. WWII brought Captain America.
All of the Super Heroes have one thing in common. In one fell swoop they are able to solve problems we, as typical, weak, humans are incapable of solving. The current crop of Super Heroes has evolved to explore “flawed” Super Heroes. What would happen if a Super Hero switched sides and championed evil instead of good? There is even a new TV program this season in the US simply entitled “Evil”.
Too much focus on Super heroes can be toxic. It misleads us into thinking that the picture of everyday people as weak, fearful and incompetent is true.
I have a solution for that tendency – apply the Goldilocks Rule to your viewing and reading habits.
It goes like this:
TOO LITTLE: The complete absence of Super Heroes results in a dull world, devoid of inspiration.
TOO MUCH: The over abundance of Super Heroes and their adversaries leads to despair and a feeling of being unable to cope with even daily problems.
JUST RIGHT: Results in inspiration, minimizes despair, encourages seeing the possibilities rather than focusing on failures. It builds confidence rather than paralyzing fear.
If you are like me, you probably have things you say when you don’t know what to say. For example, I went through a phase where I commented “It is what it is” to almost everything. Of course it is what it is, it can’t be what it isn’t. I realize the phrase has a deeper meaning, but in the shorthand of today, that deeper meaning is usually not conveyed nor understood. We’re left with a shallow saying rather than true communication.
Language is always changing and evolving. Context changes rapidly and that affects meaning. One of my ‘favorite’ sayings illustrates that point- ‘the exception proves the rule.” On the face of it, the phrase is not logical. But, the meaning of the word ‘proves’ has morphed over time. It used to mean ‘tests’, but now we tend to use it to mean ‘support’.
Maybe next time I don’t know what to say, I should remember that “Silence is golden” – and offer a sympathetic nod or hand pat.
My husband, William B. James, a talented thinker, teacher and writer, passed away on September 2, 2014. For the past five years, I’ve left his now ten-year-old laptop computer on the desk in the room he used as an office. The computer could not be linked to the wi fi printer, the programs could no longer be updated and the screen was beginning to show that watery look that indicates it will not last much longer. Most of the time, Bill chose to write on yellow legal tablets. I have placed those in storage, but there was one short draft that was on his computer. I saved it to a flash drive. It appears below. It was good to hear his voice again.
For me, liberal means that we are committed to meeting the basic needs of life for our citizens. This means food on the table and a roof over our heads and then a civil society where education, work and free communication is valued as a way of life. If your first interest is your racial or ethnic group’s advancement, then you are not a liberal; you are a conservative. You are retreating back to your racialized group for comfort and support. Usually it is similar to your family in culture, religion and language. There is a predictable loyalty transference especially if your family has been good to you. This is understandable in hard times but it is not liberal. A liberal is more bold. Liberalism requires that you reach out beyond your ethnic or racial group and make alliances for a better society.
It may make sense to retreat to ones’ own racial group in hard times. New immigrants groups have a long history of racializing their identity and grouping together but this, once again, is not liberalism.
It requires you to be able to think of the citizens of your society as a family when it comes to basic human needs. if you see them as only competing individuals, then liberalism is impossible for you.