Posts Tagged ‘Batman

14
Sep
08

Batman – My Hypothetical Hero

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:12-14
Batman Forever is my favorite movie.  It paints the question of motivation vs. results and brings to life moral debates never settled.  I love the questions, the way it makes me consider humanity and the fine line we walk.  In school, my daughter’s moral philosophy teacher uses this character to make their discussions of Odysseus more pertinent.  They are discussing what makes Batman the quintissential hero.  Well…two things.  He is wealthy beyond measure and has a vengeful spirit.  Bruce Wayne is driven by a spirit of vengeance, and the result is goodness as he moves through Gotham’s black night, banishing evil.  This good that is done, though, does not speak of heroism.  It is a fortunate byproduct of a bitter heart.  Bruce Wayne is a loose cannon and would have acted the same whether he was on the side of good or bad.  In his case, it is fortunate that he is on the side of that which is good.  The message of the movie would be much different if his father had been a drug lord and was gunned down by the angry family of an addict, driving Bruce to reak vengeance against the “establishment.”  Still, the on the surface it would look the same.  Bruce Wayne devotes all of his life, wealth, and strength to avenge his fathers death.  In the original scenario, justice.  In the hypothetical scenario, senseless violence.

If Batman cannot be the great hero of our generation, then who do we have.  Not many.  A hero is one who takes the time to examine his motivation.  He needs to check the recesses of his heart to ensure that what he does stands for justice, not just because he happens to be on the right side, but because he is just.  This man has to lay down his life in order to pursue justice.  A life laid aside is a painful separation.  I think of the men portrayed in “The End of the Spear” and their wives.  These men went to a cannibal tribe to minister to them, but the cannibals killed them savagely.  Their wives later went to the tribe to live among them and raise their children there.  Under their influence, the tribe has turned to Christianity and, therefore, away from a life of cruel cannibalism.  One of the murdered men’s sons acts as the tribe’s minister.  It is wonderful that these men are Christians, but with the faith comes a life of spiritual prosperity.  Their children and their children’s children are living better lives because of the spirit of forgiveness these women bore at great cost and sacrifice.  I highly doubt that living with these people and raising their children with them was what the women wanted, but something stirred deep inside and they laid selfishness aside.  That is heroism – the hero has no self.

Another hero – the mother of the slain Matthew Shepard.  If you remember, this young man was beaten and tied to a fencepost in Wyoming.  He died tied to that fencepost.  The men who beat him to death were on trial.  They would be sentenced to life at best, be sentenced to death at worst.  Matthew’s mother stood up to these men who stole her son’s dignity, his wallet, and left him in a God forsaken place to die.  She did not spit.  She did not swear vengeance.  She forgave.  She asked the courtroom for forgiveness, saying that she did not want to ruin their families’ lives as hers had been ruined.  She understood that there is no comfort in another ruined life.  This was hers to bear, not to share.  That is heroism – the hero forgives generously.

These people are not what comes to mind when we conjure our heroes, but it is a spirit like theirs that carries our country and our world, even our families and neighbors, when they need to be carried.  We may want the Batmobile coming to our rescue when darkness surrounds us, but it may be hard to see; it, too, is black.  The one we need is the friend who would lay his life down for us, never considering his self.

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