Everyday my mind is typically racing with questions. I’m someone who has an urge to learn, so asking questions is how I do that. Sometimes I’ll get the answer I want from my initial questions or statement, but that doesn’t stop me from asking more! While I may be justifying my general and intellectual curiosity, I continue to ask those questions to build context and perspective.
Me asking questions is something that I practice every day. I know that I don’t always ask the right questions or in the most appropriate way, but because I ask questions, I always find myself in comfortable positions. I would relate this specifically to any Human-Based non-mutated superhero. We can look at Batman, Nightwing, Green Arrow, Mister Terrific, Dare Devil, Hawkeye, Hardware, Ninjak, Krillan or any other individual who wasn’t gifted abilities at birth or through an accident. You know who I’m talking about and what I’m getting at. If not, everyone mentioned earlier trained to get to the level of extraordinary ability that they are seen as having, giving them a title of Superhero. In this context, asking questions is my superpower!
We can take elements of these superheroes and apply their desire to be the best into our daily lives. Before we get to applying that desire into our lives we need to determine “why”! Why do superheroes train, beat themselves up, push their limits and fight through situations that seem unnecessary? The answer is easy… so they can stop the supervillain. They train and practice every situation so they can overcome the challenges they’ll endure as well as be ready for the ones they didn’t practice for. In the fictional world of comics, the battles are not always pre-planned, pre-determined, or scheduled in their outlook calendars. Superheroes must always be ready because there isn’t any other option.
As a society and as individuals, we encounter “supervillains” on a regular basis. They may be a person or people who are sexist, racists or bigots. Maybe it’s a corporation who is harming the ones you love or having a negative impact on how you go through your day to day. Maybe society is the villain because we can’t come to an agreement to make change with universal issues like global warming, healthcare or poverty. Regardless of who you see as the villain, we can look at our favorite superheroes and instill the same level of practice that they do so we can always be prepared for every encounter.
It isn’t acceptable to be a vigilante, nor is physical confrontation an appropriate way to deal with any challenges we may be facing. We get through confrontation through dialogue, mental fortitude, and patience. These are qualities that our favorite superheroes also train for, we just don’t see it. How would Batman ever defeat the Riddler if he didn’t train his brain to think through riddles. How would Dare Devil see his foe if he didn’t train his senses to be his eyes? How would Mister Terrific change his city if he didn’t educate his mind before throwing a fist?
So what are we training for? We are training to deal with those who are creating barriers through creating change. We cannot force change nor can we expect people to understand our point of view, but we can train to help create better narratives. We can train to listen when others won’t. We can train how we approach confrontation. We can practice restraint and maybe most importantly, we can train ourselves to see perspectives we don’t know of or understand. It’s easy to say that it needs to be a 2-way street, but that isn’t life. If the Joker met Batman half way, would there even be a story line? We don’t experience “half-way” in the comics, so why should we expect “half-way” in real life?
I say this when we have a lot of problems in America, most recently highlighted by the events in Charlotteville, VA, but also over the past several years involving police brutality, virtual bullying and violent actions towards those that are perceived as different (racial minorities, transgender men/women, gay and lesbian individuals, religious minorities, etc.). What perspective is there to understand from someone creating an act of hate? Why would we want to understand their perspective when they’ve dehumanized you? How can you look at blatant ignorance and ask for patience when the same actions continue to happen as we trust the system? These are all valid questions and I’m questioning myself in how to do this, but I know that I’m willing to try. Fear will stop us from trying and we’ll try to justify that fear as being necessary in our current climate. I won’t argue that justification, but I know that those who walked passed that line of fear are seen as having made change towards a more positive society; Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, and Jesus Christ are a few examples.
While those examples are extreme, they all have a common component to their stories. They were all fighting for rights. They all voiced an opinion that would make for a more peaceful society and they all started on small levels. None of them faced their respective villain’s on large scale’s immediately. They started small, overcoming small parts of their fears in the process of changing a status quo. As they whittled down that appropriate sense of fear, they developed the skills they needed to face their villains. They all new what the end result could be, which is usually what we all fear the most. Their efforts are known because of the amount of practice they put into striving for their causes. What truly makes them superpowered is that they did so in a peaceful manner.
When we practice to achieve a goal we can never stop practicing. Just as superheroes train and practice to stay in peak physical condition, so do we need to train and practice to stay in peak (fill in the blank) condition. That practice changes as times go on, but I think there are three things we can do and be mindful of as we look to overcome the adversities we may face on a multitude of levels.
The first thing we need to do is identify what our strengths might be. Your strengths will change over time, which is why we should constantly reflect on this. Once that is identified, we need to find ways to practice in various situations. This means at work, with friends and family, when you’re alone or generally in public. It doesn’t have to be obvious, but there needs to be some effort in pushing yourself to being uncomfortable and being OK with failure, which is actually the second thing to practice.
Practicing failure is hard and you know you’re trying to be “super” when you fail and feel entirely defeated. As I mentioned earlier, start small. Accept small failures and gradually put yourself in situations where your rate of success is smaller. Naturally, you’ll increase your rate of success with like situations improving your strength(s). Training to accept failure is extremely important. If we cannot accept failure, it becomes more challenging to get up after you’ve been knocked down.
As we’re training to accept failure (sounds weird right), we also need to learn how to read other narratives and visualize other’s perspective. This is not meant to change your viewpoint, but really to arm yourself with enough information to build context so the root of the issue can actually be changed.
I don’t have the answers on the best way to train. We all need to train differently for the things we’ll encounter, and I know that if we don’t take our strengths and continuously train , we may never get to where we want to go as a society. We need a team of superheroes to make change the way we want. The Avengers will come together to defeat Thanos and the Justice League will come together to defeat Ares (I think it’s Ares as I haven’t read enough to know who the main villain will actually be). Now, more than ever, we need to assemble a team of superheros to combat the individual supervillains we all face daily and the groups who dehumanize, discriminate and devalue life in today’s society. That’s how we get to a superpowered society.
Practice, Train and Overcome. Release your powers into our society.
As a last note, I’m a huge Dragonball Z fan and maybe my mentality of training has come from that. I found this article that uses Dragonball Z to articulate how one can improve our personal lives and achieve our goals, so check it out – Dragon Ball Training Guide