You recognize that picture don’t you? Look again. No, seriously look. I’ll bet you immediately recognized that as Superman – probably the most recognizable figure in American culture. But that’s not Superman. It’s not the Man of Steel. His name’s Clark, and he’s just a orphan from Kansas. More importantly, that kid from Kansas isn’t even a super hero. He doesn’t even have any super powers. The only power he’s got is the same power that you and I have, along with everyone else on this earth. Stick with me, I’ll explain it all here in second.
Why do we love Superman? Is it because he’s “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”? No. Is it because of his plethora of abilities that run the gamut – invincibility, super speed, super strength, flight, and x-ray vision, just to name a few? No. Clark is far more than that, and far less.
Superman is often called the defender of “Truth, Justice and the American Way” and I think that over-complicates him. Superman has one power, is guided by one purpose, and believes one ideal.
Clark is just a kid from Kansas. He his entire family and has no sense of where he came from. Even his adopted family is torn from him in certain storylines. Clark is alone in this world and he has to make due with that. Now, sure, he’s got a gifts that we think of as pretty amazing – but I don’t think that changes anything. If Clark Kent was just Clark Kent, he’d still believe as Superman believes and he’d still act that way.
No one can fly like Superman, that’s true. But you know what? How many people do you know who can speak with the power of Nelson Mandella? Superman can lift entire skyscrapers, absolutely. But Mother Teresa can sit amongst the dying and hold their hand in their last moments. Superman can burn throught solid rock with his x-ray vision. Oskar Shindler can use his industrial empire to save lives instead of taking them. Superman is invicible, right? Well, so is hope.
As long as we believe, as long as we look at ourselves, our own gifts, our own superpowers and we realize that we – as individuals and as the human race – can save the world, then we’re just like that orphan kid from Kansas. We don’t need red and blue tights. We don’t need capes. We don’t need any powers beyond those we already possess. We just need to believe that the world can be a better place, no matter how bad it gets. As long as that yellow sun keeps rising, there’s always hope.