The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

April 20, 2013

Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, its ...

ENID, Okla. — Superman is a senior citizen.

The Man of Steel, the infant of Krypton, Mr. Leaps Tall Buildings at a Single Bound, is 75, making him eligible for Social Security, Medicare and every senior discount in the book.

Were he of this world, he’d have creaky joints, weak eyes, poor hearing, high cholesterol, gray hair, wrinkles and high blood pressure. But he’s not, of course, he’s indestructible — as long as there’s no kryptonite around.

Superman was born April 18, 1938, not on the planet Krypton, but in Cleveland, the brainchild of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

He’s been thwarting evil-doers ever since, saving the world, darting into and out of phone booths (a tougher task than bending steel with your bare hands these days), righting wrongs and fighting for truth, justice and the American way.

Not bad for a 75-year-old dude, huh?

He’s even getting ready to headline a new movie, “Man of Steel,” due in theaters in June. But that’s old hat for old Supe. He’s been featured in films, on television, in cartoons, on the radio and in print for decades.

He’s brave, he’s strong, he’s handsome, he’s clear-eyed, he’s square-jawed, he’s good, he’s pure, he’s selfless, he’s everything any mother in the world could want for their daughters.

It’s too bad he’s not real.

Wouldn’t it be great if he was? As long as he was a good guy, that is. Somebody with a cranky streak or nefarious motives who possessed that much other-worldly power would be a nightmare for the frail human race. But Superman’s not like that. All he wants to do is help people, to make the world a better place.

He couldn’t be everywhere at once, of course, but if he was on hand for some sort of disaster, he would certainly make a difference, providing comfort, lending a helping hand, aiding in cleanup and recovery, etc. On occasion, with his sharp eyes, he could even prevent bad things from happening.

The world is a big place, however, and even though Superman can fly like the wind, even he couldn’t be in every global trouble spot at the precise moment when he was needed most.

Everyone would want Superman to be everywhere all the time. And if a crime or disaster happened and he was not there to prevent it or clean up after it, we would blame him, being the flawed human beings that we are.

He would be widely criticized. His would be a thankless, impossible position, doing all he could, but it never being enough.

But, he’s just a work of fiction, setting a standard to which no human being can hope to aspire. There is no Superman, not really.

Thus it behooves all of us to be at least a little super.

No human being is faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive, but we all can do our bit to help people, to make the world a better place.

We’re doing it every day, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and visiting the lonely.

You can’t see through walls or catch a bullet in your teeth, but you can mow the lawn for an elderly neighbor. You don’t have super hearing that can hear an ant walking across a floor or super breath that can stir up a hurricane, but you can mentor a child or coach a youth league sports team.

You aren’t going to be able to stand up to the likes of Lex Luthor, Brainiac or General Zod, but you can donate blood, can raise funds for disaster relief, can help clean up debris in the wake of a storm, can lead a troop of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

You can’t stop a plane from falling out of the sky, can’t lift a city bus over your head, can’t round up a gang of crooks single-handed, but you can deliver meals to the elderly, visit shut-ins, sit with the dying, teach a struggling adult to read.

You can’t turn a lump of coal into a diamond with your bare hand, can’t bring down a building with your fists, can’t fly without an aircraft, but you can offer a word of encouragement or a shoulder to cry on, can open your home to a child in need, can put a smile on someone’s face.

You don’t have to be superhuman to do any of these things — simply a willing human.

This has been a week of bad news, from the Boston bombings, to flooding in the upper Midwest, to the poison-laced letters sent to the president and a senator, to the terrible explosion at the Texas fertilizer plant.

Superman is not real, and thus is not going to respond to any of these crises. But the good news is, super people will. All they want to do is help people, to make the world a better place.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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