There's been a fad among superheroes and comic books. The darker, serious tones of comics, bringing to life the essence of what superheroes oppose. It seems to be, in the darker tones of those worlds, there is no joy. But I ask, where is joy? Where is hope? Where is inspiration?
To find such things, we must look beyond our circumstances, and the darkness surrounding ourselves. We must look outwards, because inwards we are cruel and full of deceit. For the Joker will always play his evil deck, and Batman will always be in tow behind him, but within that cycle, there is no hope.
What I'm saying is this: We must not surrounded ourselves with darkness. Instead, we should empower each other with celebration. Even in the hardest, most harrowing times of our lives, there is something to celebrate. This is another metaphor that superheroes embody- the celebration of ourselves.
Walt Whitman says that "I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you". Does Batman celebrate himself, empowering himself to bring power to others? Does he equip those around him to fight the good fight? For every good thing he stands for, he could help someone else stand for it too. We as a culture don't celebrate the good elements of ourself. And to be clear, this isn't the societal interpretation of celebration, as in, "Yay me! Party time because I'm awesome!"
This connotation is saying, "What I do is for the good of the world, and everything in me is a gift for you. Because you're important". It's taking what we have, and reproducing it in others. The celebration, in the end, is not about ourselves, it's about how who we are and what we have benefits you.
"For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you". Whitman hits the nail on the head. Every gift we have is not for ourselves, it's for others. We celebrate our good gifts because our gifts are indeed good. What good doctor would sit in silence as others die of illness? What good policeman would stand by as the robber takes the hard earned money from the banker? It's not boasting to celebrate those gifts, but rather taking on a spirit of servant hood.
And when we learn to celebrate ourselves, we learn to celebrate others. Celebration changes our perspective, our worldview (see the other blog post). We celebrate our gifts and abilities, and in turn, because we can see it clearly, we can celebrate others. Just doing that alone raises the value of everyone around you. Walking down the street, you can celebrate the man painting a building, for his work is bringing beauty to the world. You can celebrate the mother taking her child to the store, because she is nurturing someone who has a gift themselves. You can celebrate the poet because his words and wisdom can enable you to see things in a whole new light, and give you a perspective on the world you wouldn't have ever thought about before.
Celebration unlocks beauty. It unlocks a way to see everything as greatness.
So in those darker, gritty superhero tales, look for the celebration. It might be harder to find, but it's there. In the Dark Knight Returns, Batman takes on Carrie Kelly, even begrudgingly at first. Even in the worst times to be a hero, she stands up because she celebrates what it means to serve others beyond what society deems normal. And Batman in turn celebrates her apprenticeship and empowers her to be more.
All the best,