Sunday, July 13, 2008

Superheroes and Government

With all of the superhero movies that have been in our theaters for the last few years, this post is way overdue.

There's a concept about superheroes that directly relates to government which many people do not realize.

For the most part, what I am about to discuss deals with superheroes who are of the Golden Era, heroic from start to finish, as opposed to the modern day anti-hero such as The Punisher and Wolverine, who use villainous means to heroic ends. However, anti-heroes have their place in this post as well.

In general, the concept I would like to discuss here is best used with a superhero like Ol' Big Blue - Superman. He is the best example because of the immense power that he wields and his willingness to help us all.

Superman is easily one of the most powerful superheroes in the comics world. He is nearly a demi-god. We are talking about a person who can move planets out of orbit if he tries hard enough, can survive nuclear explosions without so much as a scratch, can fly faster than the speed of light, and can survive the rigors of space for darn near an indefinite amount of time. Add to that the fact that his only weakness is a radiating rock from the other side of the universe!

Superman is extremely powerful. To top it off, he has dedicated himself to the protection of mankind. He fights evil whenever and wherever. He is a savior in many ways and has the immense power and capability to do it.

And yet, wars continue. Crime continues. Disease continues. Starvation continues. Man-made and natural disasters continue. Injustice continues. Evil continues.

Keep in mind all of the power that Superman has. What I listed above is just a portion of what he is capable of doing! With that much immense power at his disposal, it should be easy to conceive that Superman would be capable of putting an end to every war, all crime, all disease, all starvation, every disaster, every injustice, and all evil in the world.

He could be, literally, the world's saviour and float high above the planet as the Earth's guardian, ready to respond, preventing every single bad thing that ever happens. Eventually, he would prevent bad things from happening from nothing more than the fear of his response.

So then ask yourself...why doesn't he?

Aside from the rational, real-world reason that the writers of his stories would have nothing left to write, why doesn't Superman simply force the world to be 100% good? He has the power to do so, yet he does not do it.

Because if Superman prevented all evil from occurring, we would never learn to prevent it ourselves.

Superheroes, particularly those with the kind of massive power that Superman has, are there to give us (mankind) a helping hand, to help us help ourselves, not to hold our hands and prevent every bad thing from occurring under their watchful eye.

I liken this to government.

Those who want to use government as the solution to every problem are those who would see Superman solve every problem for us and completely rid the world of everything that is bad, doing it all for us.

Wouldn't that be a good thing, they might ask? Why allow bad things to continue? If there exists an entity, whether it's Superman or government, that's capable of righting all of our wrongs, why not?

My answer would be that what is right and wrong is not the same for everyone. This is why most solutions should remain at a more local or state level and not force everyone at the national level to be subjected to one standard for every solution.

I would also say that I think government should be one of our tools in the toolbox - a way to help us help ourselves - not the end-all solution to all problems.

I might also add that although government is powerful, it's no Superman. When we expect government to be like Superman, it turns out to be more like The Punisher or Wolverine (mentioned above), or worse.

Yes, it would be nice if all wrongs were righted.

Instead of waiting for a savior, perhaps WE should get to work.

If we expect government to solve all of our problems at the national level, then government becomes nothing more than our master, just as Superman would be if he were to solve all of our problems for us.

Thankfully, Superman does not want to be our master.

Government, on the other hand, always does.

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