"You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun."
The United States of America is at a crossroads politically, socially and culturally. We have a president who did not win the popular vote, has the lowest approval ratings in modern history and who is under FBI, Senate and House investigation for colluding with the Russian government to win the election. Furthermore, the president has shady business dealings that the country knows nothing about because he will release his tax returns, not divest his business interests, and is profiting from the office. Also, he lies. He lies so uncontrollably and so laughably that it actually puts people's lives in danger. This president has also so far fired three people investigating him. Frankly, I don't care what party you identify with, that looks like a cover-up.
And this is just the president. There's also an Attorney General with a history of racist views and actions. An Attorney General so racist, he was denied a federal judgeship by Republicans in the 1980s. This is a man who wants to oppress people with no desire to reform a broken and outdated criminal justice system.
This is all a symptom of a craven Republican Party. A party with no morals and no compunction to help others. Just look at the archaic healthcare bill. And worst, the "Party of Reagan" has no desire to investigate the president's ties to Russia, let alone the fact that Russia influenced the election. This is a party that cares little for the people they represent and only cares for their party’s soulless, nihilistic agenda. It's a sad state of affairs when a political party has to gerrymander it's way into power and ignore the needs of the many for tax cuts.
These, of course, are all broad generalizations of the problems with the Republican party and the current administration. That isn't to say the Democrats or "left" is perfect, but there's a better moral understanding of people's needs on that side of the aisle, or even younger generations that don't particularly identify with a political party, but want to see a better world for everyone.
How can we change this? Where can we look for an example of not only the goodness of humanity, but the very embodiment of the idea of what America can be? The answer is in comic books and pop culture. The standard of human and American compassion and desire to do good in the world lies with Superman. (And I don't mean the current movie version).
One of my favorite characters, I’ve written extensively about Superman in the past at my comics-centric blog.
Now before I continue, yes, Lex Luthor became President of the United States at one point. Luthor ran on a platform of technological progress and also orchestrated a number of Reichstag fires including the destruction of Gotham City and allowing an alien invasion. I bring up Luthor because there are many parallels between Trump and the various versions of Luthor throughout the years. However, Luthor ― though fictional ― is far more articulate, calculating and is actually successful.
Yes, The Man of Steel is a fictional character owned by Warner Bros. and DC Comics, but Superman is also the embodiment of the America. An immigrant (in this case not even human), who is adopted by kindly people and raised to respect the power he wields and to use his position and abilities for the good of others. Superman is a representation of hope ― it’s the meaning of the “S” ― and at the time of his creation by two Jewish kids in Cleveland, to many America was a symbol of hope.
There's an argument to be made that if Superman's rocket ship landed in Kansas or a red state today, that he would not have the same moral values. That's not true unless you fundamentally change who The Kents are, and they too are a representation of the American and human family. They are accepting, they don't give in to fear and they raised their adopted son to be a force for good. They cared about one thing: raising a good person.
America is not without it's flaws and dark history, but that doesn't mean that doesn't mean that we can't look at the example set by Superman and strive to make a better world for the common good. That's the central principle at the core of the idea of America. Superman uses his powers to help people, it doesn't matter their race, gender, sexual orientation or if they are a super-villain. Taking just that idea about The Last Son of Krypton and applying it to American politics, we should be striving to make America a prosperous, accepting and affordable place for everyone. That means access to healthcare, livable wages, a true effort to curb systemic racism and ways to find common ground on core issues.
Superman is meant to represent the good in all of us. Not just Americans, but all of humanity. There was an instance a few years back where Superman renounced his U.S. citizenship. The point wasn’t as anti-American as it seemed and it was to show that Superman represents all of humanity (this has since been forgotten in comic continuity). He represents an ideal of upholding truth, seeking justice, promoting equality and striving to be a force for moral righteousness. He does it without religion, he does it without a set ideology or belief system, he does it because helping others and the less fortunate is simply the right thing to do. We should follow that example and work together to achieve the potential of both America and humanity.
America is an idea, a place where all are created equal. America has never been perfect and it likely never will. As Americans with a shared experience, we get bogged down in political identities and pre-conceived notions, no thanks to the 24/7 news cycle. But if we skirt partisanship and the "gaming" of our political system, we can find one common denominator: we all want a better, more prosperous nation for ourselves, families and kids.
Part of the idea of America is a place that has no tolerance for racism and hatred, just as Superman doesn't. It's time all Americans look to the sky and remember the ideals that are the foundations of the "American way."
I still believe in America because I believe that like Superman, America is more than a country or a nation, it's an ideal to strive towards.
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