Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Modern Day Superheroes

Whenever I pick up a newspaper or turn on the news I am always astounded. Not at what is being said, but at the overly negative focus it takes. Today's headlines read about a plane high-jacked in Ethiopia, the unexpected increase in amateur bodybuilders (and the negative impact on body image), continuing protest riots in Kyev, and of a trade ban on lacy panties in Russia. Of course there was mention of Canadian victory (or close enough) at the Olympics, but the bad news definitely outweighed the good – even if it seems slightly ridiculous from a Canadian perspective (seriously Russia, is there anything you approve of?).

In comic books we have plenty of superheroes to fight for our rights – yes, there is even a Captain Underpants, though I doubt that his motto is along the lines of “panties for all” – but in the real world we are seemingly let down. There are no men in spandex, no women with magical tiaras, and certainly no Bat-beacon lighting up the sky.

But we do have people who are fighting the good fight and taking a stand against the evils of the world. People like Oprah, who open the discussion on the race issues in America and promotes education in Third World countries. People like Ian Somerhalder, who has a foundation that helps prevent cruelty to animals and encourage environmentalism. People like Neil Gaiman, who actively works with the Comic Book Defence League to protect the right of free speech and fight censorship in literature. People like Malala Yousafzai, who had the courage to voice her opinions on the education of Pakistani women and is now an activist championing these rights.

Three of the four people I mentioned may be celebrities, which I am sure helps them with their causes – money goes a long way, as does an widely accessible audience – but none of these people were born into their causes. Gaiman has often mentioned that he feels so strongly about freedom of speech and the work of the CBDL because it’s not something that exists in the United Kingdom where he began his career as a writer, and I highly doubt that Malala knew the events that would be sparked from her blog post. Their goals can also seem a bit lofty to those of us who don’t have a platform or the funds to encourage widespread change for our causes.

Ideally, we should all be donating and protesting and volunteering, but I don’t think that it’s reasonable to expect the same amount of commitment from everyday people to the big causes since we all have bills to pay and have to spend much of our time working to pay said bills.

So instead of feeling bad that we can’t commit ourselves to being superheroes on a grand scale, we should pick a cause and do what we can. Even if it’s only the adoption of an endangered animal from the WWF, a day a week volunteering at your local SPCA or animal shelter, or raising money during Mo-vember for prostate cancer research a little bit at a time still helps.

So here’s my challenge to you: do something good this month for one of your causes. You might not get to save New York from an alien invasion alongside RDJ, but you can still feel like a modern-day superhero. And if you pick the right cause (*cough*animalshelter*cough*) you might even get something back!

(Seriously, everyone can use a little puppy/kitty-love in February)

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