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Friday, 28 April 2017

I want to be a superhero

"I want to be a superhero!" These words have been uttered innumerable times by little ones rushing through their back yards on their way to yet another adventurous discovery in the far corner of the garden. We, the listeners, smile inwardly when we hear these words and have a silent giggle over the innocence of preschoolers. They will soon enough grow out of their fanciful flights of imagination and grow up into reality.
Most recently though, I heard these words from the mouth of an 18 year old. This was a little disconcerting, but I did not make too much of it until he repeated it a couple of days later. That was when I stopped to inquire after the statement which seemed so strange to me at this age. He answered that he wanted to have super powers. He wanted to be able to fly, or shoot fire from his palms, or be stronger than a bulldozer or... The list is endless.
The story would just have been another frivolous conversation between two people if it hadn't been for the fact that it started me thinking about superheroes and superpowers and what all of that meant to us living in the real world.
When he was still very young, barely out of diapers, my little nephew prayed to God to please give him super powers. This went on for about a week until I finally sat him down and explained to him the difference between reality and fantasy. At that age I found it cute. So why did it bother me at 18? Was it because I thought the 18-year old had gotten the lines between reality and fantasy obscured? I did not. So what was it? It did not make sense to me until I started dissecting what the 'job' of a super hero entailed.
The super hero rushes towards danger to save the earth form pending danger (more often certain destruction). Only, he does this with very little risk to himself. He has superpowers. Of course the creators of these heroes realized that there would be little respect or adoration for a hero who did not risk anything. That is why they created weaknesses in their heroes. Superman's cryptonite, if you wish. (I hope I spelled that correctly, since spell checker does not seem to have a superhero vocabulary).
This then started me wondering why it was that neither my brothers nor I ever wanted to be superheroes growing up. It is quite possible that they did, but that I was simply oblivious to this fantasy of theirs, but as far as I can remember this never was the case. No, we wanted to be firemen or policemen or other such heroes.
Heroes. Not superheroes. You see, we grew up in a time where these people were still hailed as heroes, where their rushing into danger was considered heroic. The difference was that they did this at considerable risk to themselves. They did not have superpowers. The fire could burn them. They could not freeze the heat with a single stare or move with the speed of a tornado, or bounce bullets off their steel-hardened chests. There were real risks and real dangers. And very real responsibilities.
So what is the point of all this rambling about heroes and superheroes? Simply that I have concluded that the world we live in, is in dire need of more heroes. Not superheroes. We do not need people whooshing through our lives hit and run style without sticking around to take responsibility for their actions. We need heroes; people who will step into situations of need and lend assistance, even at great risk to themselves.
So I hail those heroes of ours who have unfairly come to be pitted against the superheroes; our doctors and nurses who often deal with very difficult situations, our policemen and women who stand between us and danger more often than we care to acknowledge, our firefighters, our soldiers, our teachers who stand between our children and ignorance, and everyone else who is standing on the front lines today warding off some form of evil, be that physical, mental or spiritual.
There was a movement in South Africa to have Mr. Nelson Mandela's birthday declared a public holiday. He urged us not to do so. Instead of a day of passivity, he encouraged people to take action, to go out and do something for someone else. In short, to be a hero.
May you have a hero when you need one, but more importantly, may you be a hero when you need to be, an anchor in the storm for someone who needs you.
I am reminded of Jesus' words when He said:
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy the books here:
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Jy kan Kom Ons Kleur Tuinstories In hier koop.Jy kan Tuinstories hier koop.You can follow Miekie's daily Bible Study blog, Bybel Legkaart, here in English & Afrikaans.For more crafty ideas and great products, visit A Pretty Talent on Facebook.Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.You can subscribe to this blog and receive regular updates by email by simply registering your email address at the top of the current blog.