What’s your superpower?
This phrase is normally accredited to Stan Lee, but in various forms it is pre-dated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, and a biblical variant is in the book of Luke. Most of us, however, will remember these words as being said by Benjamin “Ben” Parker, the uncle of Peter Parker / Spiderman.
All of us have great power, just by being alive. Each of us have the power to affect those around us for better or for worse. I guess we need to choose whether we will be a superhero or supervillain. The greatest responsibility I have as a parent to help my kids become superheroes. They each have their own superpower. My role is help them discover and develop it. Since we have not got any radioactive anything lying around at home to drop the ducklings into, it’s left to boring old life and conversation to be the gloop/nuclear reactor/spider bite/exoskeleton/arc-reactor/ring/lantern.
Boys will be boys and over the weekend I had the chance to help the younger duckling help deal with an cyber-bullying incident. The environment was Minecraft. An amazing game, like digital Lego on steroids. It has it’s own culture and the in-game physics more or less model the real world. The game can be played just on your own computer, or you can join with friends to play in an environment hosted on server somewhere. One the best things we discovered about the game, is also the worst thing. In the virtual world which players create, they become gods over their own creations. Laws of physics can be turned off at will and all sorts of tricks played. This is where the problems started, and the pep-talk began.
I’m proud to say that my own little duckling was, in his own way, doing his best to clear the up mess the bullies were making with another players things, and fighting a loosing battle. We talked about what happened and tried to think up a way for the lad being teased to feel welcome again. We talked about the power that can be wielded in these virtual playgrounds, and talked about the responsibility this brings.
Just as in the virtual world of Minecraft, in the real world we cannot be in control of everything as much as we might like to be. We can however control how we respond. Superman cannot control the circumstances which make a bus fall into a river, but he can choose whether or not to jump in the water and save the passengers. We might not be able to stop bad things from happening around us, but we can use our own superpowers to try to rescue those who might be affected.
Even with only one eye open, it’s easy to see lonely and hurting people. The beggars, the bullied, the lost. They might be sat near bottom of the steps of the railway station hoping for your loose change. They might be just standing still, taking a deep breath and mustering the courage to face another day at school, or at work.
Some words spoken by Jesus 2000 years ago haunt me ..
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Jesus explains that whenever we see someone hungry and feed them, see someone thirsty and give them a drink, invite a stranger into our home, clothe someone, care for the sick, or visit someone in prison – we do it for Him. When we see the kid being bullied, the beggar, the sick, someone just having a crap day; what do we do?
What superpower do we need to give a meal, a drink, hospitality, clothes, care or company? I don’t know, but I bet we don’t need to fall into a tub of radioactive gloop, or have parents from a planet long gone to get it.