There is a prevalence of super heroes in our culture. I suspect there have always been a prevalence of super heroes in every culture. I've been contemplating why this is true for a few years and have drawn some ... well, not exactly conclusions, but perhaps ideas that could lead to conclusions. I'd like to discuss these today.
Ever since I was a child, I have wanted to help people. The desire was so overwhelming and acting on it so very disastrous that I basically shut down and went into myself. I became an introvert.
I journeyed into myself by fantasizing about saving people. I imagined myself as a superhero saving people from all the horrible things that happen to them. I didn't read comics because I lived a comic book life within me. Perhaps that's where I learned to harness the creative aspects of my mind.
My inner world is much more bold and colorful than anything the outside world can offer. Sometimes I wonder if certain autistic children aren't like me but to a deeper extreme, to the extent they sit and rock in their own fantasy world.
When I was younger, if became stressed I disappeared into my own world and I didn't come out again until it was safe. I'm not like that anymore, I need to be higher functioning than that. In fact I gave that up as soon as I moved out after college. Because I don't retreat / run away from the world, I'm more stressed now than ever. I still slip into my imagination quite often, but reality sucks me back out. By necessity I have become accustomed to letting go of the tendency to hide and am learning to deal with reality as it is, not as I want it to be.
I see myself as a microcosm of the surrounding macrocosm. I'm one individual in six billion, and those six billion are a whole lot like me. Sure there are individual differences, but on the whole people are more alike than they are different.
I see my fatansies of saving folks and I see the super hero love that societies express and I think, "there's got to be a connection."
Where does my desire to save people come from? I think its partly genetic. I think our ancestors were able to survive because they pulled together for the common good. The people who were capable of pulling together survived and those who went off by themselves did not. This is why we tend to want to help each other and why we have the ability to push past our inherent selfishness. If it weren't for those few who weathered the ice ages by pulling together, we might not have the ability to get beyond our selfishness.
I believe in the inherent goodness of people. Even though there are many counter examples, my experience with numerous races, colors and creeds shows that in general people are good at heart. Personally I believe people only fall to selfishness when they fail to recognize the love that people feel for them and the love they feel for others.
I can't seem to let go of my need to help people. What is a person with unfulfillable needs to do? I can't save anyone. I learned that the hard way. I married a woman I wanted to save because she'd had a hard life. We both honestly believed we were the solution to each other's problems. Eventually we became each other's biggest problems. It was destined to be that way because we believed that our problems could be solved by something outside of us. I learned through the experience that I have to care for myself first and then spread that caring to others. I can't rely on someone to care for me while I care for her, that's doomed co-dependence.
I got to know my ex-wife very well. I recognized after she left what went wrong. I saw all our mistakes and all our unhealthful attitudes and resolved to solve my own issues by and for myself. My goal was to become whole. I wanted to not need anything outside myself to feel complete.
I learned that no matter how hard I try I can't save anyone, not really even myself. But at least with the attempt to save myself, I can learn about myself and grow.
Super heroes can save people from falling meteors, from evil villians, from earthquakes, floods, and a whole host of other "things," but ironically people don't suffer from those things. They die from those things or they get hurt by those things, but they always heal if they survive. People don't suffer because of what happens to them, they suffer because of their reaction to the things that happen to them. People are the source of their own suffering. How can I help them?
We have arrived at the question for this topic: "How do we save people from themselves?"
My answer is: we can't, they have to do it for themselves.
What do you think? Better yet, what do you know? Are there any ways we can help others help themselves?
Causes Brian McKee Supports
I support the cause of peace via peaceful means.