The next time someone asks why I still read superhero comic books at age 29, I’m going to hand them a copy of Brian Michael Bendis’s Superman #2. It opens with powerful reminder of the responsibility we all have to stay plugged into what’s happening in the world, even when it’s totally overwhelming — all under the guise of a superhero story. And it has the realistic, yet inspiring tone you’d want from a Superman story.
Green Arrow once privately asked me if my life was Hell.
“Hell?” I asked.
“Actual Hell! Because you can never turn off your super-hearing. You can’t not see the madness of the world with your super-vision. You can’t stop seeing and hearing all the horrors of the world.”
First of all… yes, I can. I can turn it off anytime I want. I don’t. I never have and I never will. But I can. We all can. I could leave the planet and never come back.
And yes. Some days it does feel like madness. The screams for help never stop. The hate never stops. Oh, and the ignorance. The ignorance sometimes never stops, and it just breaks my heart.
But, and it was my wife who pointed this out… she said: everyone knows there is suffering and hurt and war and disaster. All the time. Somewhere, someone is out there hurting someone else. Whether you have the superpower to hear it or not, you still know it.
But what a lot of people don’t get to see or hear it what I get to see or hear: what happens after the scream.
People help. People reach out. More times than not, a scream — and someone nearby helps before I can even lift a finger. People do their jobs. It’s stunning to see. Beautiful, really. The police, firemen, EMTs, politicians, even.
Nothing is perfect, and it never will be, but the world works. Even during emergencies, tragedies, and sudden disasters. Especially during emergencies, tragedies, and sudden disasters.
Not all the time, and not everyone, but billions and billions of times a day, the world works. Billions and billions! I explained it to Ollie: that’s what I get to see and hear every day. The sight and sounds of billions of people trying.
Does that sound like Hell?