I think that the writer of the Superman story was a genius. I think this, primarily because they didn’t make their character a human (at least not one from earth). There are plenty of ways to explain an earthling having superpowers, as we have all seen in many a comic book or movie. He could have been mutated by something radioactive, or he could have just saved up a lot of cash and boundless, vengeful rage like Batman did. But they chose to make Superman an alien. That way no one can say, “Hey, he can’t do that…that’s impossible!” Because they could just say, “Well, it may be impossible for you, but he’s an alien so it’s not impossible for him.” That’s genius!
When I really think about it, there is one super power that Superman had that stands far above the rest, it is probably the most un-human of them all. I mean most of his powers (with the exception of the laser beam eyes) were just exaggerations of abilities that most humans have. We can run… but he runs really fast. We can see…but he can see through stuff. We are strong enough to pick certain objects up…but he is so much stronger that he can pick up the building that we are standing in while we are holding aforementioned objects. And in all honesty flying is just a really great jump. See what I mean. He is, for the most part, like us… only better. But there is one thing that he does that is altogether unhuman. He doesn’t want anyone to know that he is better! That blows my mind! If I had at any point in my life been able pick up a car, or jump over a building or even a lawn chair, I would still be talking about it to this day. When I met people I would say…”Hi, I’m Reece. I jump really high. Do you have anything that you want to see me jump over?” But Superman never wanted anybody to know. He had some type of Super-humility!
I guess it could be because everyone on his planet could do that stuff and so it wasn’t a big deal. But, I know for sure that most every decision that I make on a moment by moment basis is tainted by my desire to be liked and appreciated and I certainly would not pass up an opportunity like that to prove my worth to everyone by doing something that I do better than everyone else. I don’t know if anyone would. It seems that our entire society is based around finding fulfillment or pain based on how good we measure up to each other. Almost every despicable thing in our history can be boiled down to some person or some group trying to prove their worth by showing their superiority to others. We base our lives around an imaginary cast system and we fight like animals to move up a notch or at least to keep someone lower from passing us.
When I was in middle school I had a friend who played in the band with me. I was by no means the coolest kid in school, but I was “cool” enough to not get picked on. Well, my friend was not necessarily on the same perceived level so I never really talked to her outside of band class, and even then it depended on who was watching. One day she wrote me one of those notes. You know… the kind that ended with that ever so vulnerable question, followed by the checkboxes. When she gave it to me, one of my friends saw it and snatched the note from me. They began to make jokes about it and I could feel my place in the social ladder slipping, like somehow by association of this sort I would be thrown down the ladder. I immediately felt this primal urge to defend my place, I had to distance my self from her as much as possible. So, I walked over to her in the cafeteria, took out the note and crumpled it up and handed it to her and proceeded to cuss her out, with my friends rooting me on from the background like vultures at the sight of blood. Because they all knew that by this act of publicly humiliating someone else our entire group could possibly slide up the social ladder a little bit more.
That was probably the single most regrettable thing I have ever done to anyone in my life. I think about it a lot, its forever etched in my memory as a reminder of how terrible my pride can be. I have actually cried about it several times since then (admitting that may knock me down the ladder a couple rungs right now). I think I actually cried about it that night, thinking about what it must have felt like on the other end. The humiliation, the heartbreak, the fear, the outright rejection. But for some reason, in my mind it was necessary, it was instinct…like I was fighting for my life.
I am no Superman, that’s for sure. He never wanted anyone to see him as better than anyone else, even though he really was. I, on the other hand, would do whatever it took to make people see that I was not the lowest on the food chain, even though we were all on the same level. We were all fighting the same battles. And we were all victims of the same identity crisis. We did not know who we were and so we tried to define ourselves by competition. And we still do. I would even say that most of the good things that I do are still shackled to that same identity crisis. I still constantly compare myself to others and I still show love with partiality, and associate with those who are perceived on the social scale as equal or better than me. I still look for any and every opportunity to prove my worth by what I can do and not by who I am. But, all in all, I’ve come a long way. Little by little the wounds of my fallen nature are being healed and the disease of self-obsession is being cured. I know now that my identity is meant to be found in God and who I am in him. Now I just have to start believing it.
There is no Superman among us. No one who is greater, no one who is less. We are all infected with the same disease. It’s time to stop pointing out the wounds of others, while feverishly trying to hide our own. And instead devote ourselves to seeking the one who can heal us, who can finally tell us who we are. And once we have found him, we must go back for the others and carry them to him, wounds and all.