One of the daily posts I subscribe to is written by Heather Cox Richardson who is an American historian and Professor at Boston College. On January 15, MLK Day, after writing about the speech Dr. King gave on April 3, 1968, the night before he was assassinated, she ended her post with this:
People are wrong to say that we have no heroes left.
Just as they have always been, they are all around us, choosing to do the right thing, no
Many years ago, in a class I was taking, the teacher referenced the book If You Meet the Buddha on the Road Kill Him. I had never heard of the book and I have never read it, but, for some reason, the title stayed with me. Still having never read the book, but connecting the title to my thinking about heroes and superheroes, I think that it means something like don’t let anyone else be buddha for you. Stand up and be your own sacred self.
I think something of the same thing applies to heroes and superheroes.
We like them and lift them up and put them on pedestals.
We invest in them the power to right wrongs and to save what needs saving and to stand up against all those forces which threaten to tear down all that is good and meaningful and life-giving.
We leave it to them to do the hard work so we don’t have to do it.
Let me say that again.
We cling to heroes and superheroes to protect the illusion that they will do the hard work so we don’t have to.
If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.
With all that said, let me also say this.
We need heroes.
You and me type heroes.
Everyday, common folk heroes.
Folks who will stand up and do what is right.
Folks who will speak up and act up against that which would tear down.
Folks who do their best to live with kindness and compassion and respect.
Even when it is hard.
Especially when it is hard.
Down with superheroes.
Tear down the pedestals.
And stand up.