Tuesday, December 28, 2004


There's a quote from a comic book - Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (published in the mid-'80s, it was a graphic novel that re-defined the Batman character and pretty much set off the ensuing 15+ years of "edgy" superheroes) that I think about when I see news like I have recently. It's from a monologue that's running in Batman's mind as he battles Superman:

"You sold us out, Clark. You gave them the power that should have been ours. Just like your parents taught you to. My parents taught me a different lesson... lying on the street, shaking in deep shock, dying for no reason at all. They showed me that the world only makes sense when you force it to."

There's an interesting discussion of the Batman/Superman dichotomy at the Open Roleplaying website (I don't do roleplaying games, but I found the discussion whilst Googling) about this. The two heroes represent two archetypes: Superman the optimist (he even derives his powers from sunlight) and Batman the pessimist.

Where does this relate to what I've been saying? Well, about my life, and the things I hold closely and can personally affect, I remain a firm optimist. I believe that with good intentions I can render my part of the world a better place. However, when it comes to the world at large I am deeply pessimistic. Most people are too shallow, too uncaring, and yes, too stupid to try and make any impact of a positive kind whatsoever. Rather than engage the world as best they can, they settle for coasting along, never questioning, never thinking for themselves, and sealing themselves off from life. If you never reach, you can never succeed. And who knows? If you dig deep enough into that huge mound of horse poop, you just may find a pony. You won't know if you don't look. So what if you get dirty? There's plenty of time to wash up later.

Basically, I mean this. Try and do what you can to overcome your personal inertia and leave the world a better place than you found it. Worry about the here and now, instead of imagining some afterlife that'll make things all better. If I'm wrong, and there's an afterlife someday, deeds would probably matter far more than words. Af it makes you feel better to believe in something, great. But don't ignore the world because of it.

We may live in a Batman world, but there's no good reason we can't all try to be Superman.

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