Our amazing, complicated, unwieldy, inventive, beautiful country, America, is in need of superheroes from every age, color, gender, and political persuasion.
I’ve watched most every superhero movie made the last twenty years. Growing up my son was a save-the-world-fanatic and my daughter shared my adoration for Robert Downey Jr. We sat transfixed as Iron Man attempted to crush madman Ivan Ivanko, played by Mickey Rourke in ‘Iron Man 2’. Tony Stark, (Iron Man), is a complicated and flawed superhero.
Americans are complicated and flawed, but like fictional character Tony, beneath our self-involvement and ego-based exterior, we have a courageous human spirit. It isn’t always present or even consciously noticeable, but it exists. And there, where our true self lives, it is the source for real superheroes.
One point that United States voters can agree on is that rampant party-first thinking has hamstrung our ability to come together. This isn’t a Democrat, Independent or Republican problem, it’s a people problem. Our elected and non-elected officials have not figured out a way to honor the American people and still keep their jobs.
That’s understandable. No one would want to go through the grueling vetting process to work in government and only stay for a couple of years. But that can’t be the determining factor in decision making, whether one is a member of congress or a caseworker in social services.
As a small business owner, I make decisions based on what works best for my life and the people who come to me for assistance. That isn’t an easy process on some days. I can’t imagine it’s any easier for those elected or employed to serve our country. Add in campaign donors, party leaders and outside lobbyists and we’ve got an unlikely positive outcome for the American people.
The last few months, I’ve been doing research on how our government is faring in terms of productive and mindful decision making. What I’ve found is that our process isn’t healthy or thoughtful or in the best interest of our nation, our people, and the land. I’m not exposing anything that historians and political observers haven’t been saying for a couple of decades.
Which means, that the time for a serious overhaul of how we handle problems has been a long time coming.
With that in mind, I’ve been working alongside committed, solution-based individuals who are launching a grassroots movement. We’re one of dozens of similar enterprises springing up all over the nation. Ours and many others are endeavoring to start over. And starting over means—hope.
While raising children, I divvied out hope alongside Cheerios. When the kids argued with each other or friends, I nudged them to compromise. If one worried over the future, I reminded them the world is full of endless possibility. As a practitioner in the healing arts, my clients often grow weary and frustrated with the length of time and commitment it takes to heal. I have felt much the same with my own twenty-plus year effort to return to wellness.
It is then that I reflect on those who came before me ― Maya Angelou, Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, Harvey Milk and anyone who has stood strong in the face of adversity. I also use fictional heroes for inspiration because outlandish success can unleash my, at times, hidden courage.
In 2014, a new character sprung from Marvel. My adult children no longer nestled at my side, means that her deployment went by unnoticed until today. Her name is Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim teen devoted to social justice, created by writer G. Willow Wilson. Kamala’s superhero purpose and image recently became a rallying point for social awareness and change.
American’s have a common need—a functioning and thoughtful government that is based on our core values of human rights and equal opportunity. And we can use fictional and real people of courage as examples for how as leaders and citizens we become superheroes that will generate better lives for all our people.
Marvel character Tony Stark put aside his self-involvement to save the world and another, Kamala Khan, left off being a teenager to instigate social justice. Real-life legends Maya Angelou healed from trauma so that she could inspire others, Elie Wiesel survived the horrors of the Holocaust and became a living testament to what hate does to our collective soul, Nelson Mandela endured years in prison to be a voice to end apartheid, and Harvey Milk outed himself on the political stage so that all people may live openly as their true selves.
I ask all Americans, citizens and employees of the people, to set aside self-involvement and the trappings of our individual experiences to prioritize our nation and the condition of life all over our planet.
Be courageous. Stand up for all people. Wear a suit of hope and possibility. Do the impossible. Join a grassroots organization. Get involved. Become a model for change and compromise. Have tough talks with a listening ear. Teach children to become active in their community and stand for those who are less fortunate. Channel Maya, Elie, Nelson and Harvey and put their message out into the world.
We can make this a new beginning, one of thoughtful and consistent consideration for what is at stake. Democracy requires each of us to defend a system that was created from the minds of men dead long ago. It will take the superhero within our living humanity to be successful and leave an enduring legacy of hope for future generations.
Our country needs you.
We the People. #PeoplePower