Each generation has a superhero. My hero was Captain America. His muscular physique, red white and blue outfit, and mighty shield had me captivated immmediately. My friend Shawn, who had a habit of drooling, was Mighty Thor, and I of course was Captain America, so we rarely fought each other. Instead, we ran about the neighbourhood, fighting our battles with imaginary villains, solving the world’s problems, and doing good in general.
Around the same time, the kid next door thought he was Batman, put on his cape and proceeded to jump off the roof, breaking his arm.
The Green Hornet and his sidekick Kato, who was played by the great Bruce Lee, got my brother and I real fired up. We kicked and punched in the air at each other yelling “Hai, Hai, Hai!” for hours. We drove our parents nuts with the noise and destruction of furniture. All in all, it was good clean fun.
In time, I found other heroes as I grew up. My father was a big hero. A stocky, powerful ex-U.S. Marine, he worked in construction most of his life. I have seen few men as strong in my time. The day the neighborhood punks, Rex and Cole, who terrorized our neighborhood, made the mistake of beating on my brother and I would be one that I will always remember.
As my sister ran screaming into the house to let dad know what was going on, I thought to myself “I hope he gets here quick!” A deep, thundering “Hey!” came from above and I looked up to see my dad moving in, fearlessly toward the oldest bully, Rex, who was about 18. He glared at my dad and said, “What are you going to do, fatman”? Dad was big, and yes he had a little paunch, but he was no fat man, and he certainly didn’t move like one as he exploded forth and gave Rex a smack in the mouth. Although my dad could have put him in the hospital with a solid punch, he elected to give Rex an open handed smack. More humiliated than anything, Rex and Cole ran down the road. From that day forward, we knew we could count on him to be our protector.
Kwai Chang Caine in the TV series Kung Fu became my next hero in high school as I watched him battle the bad guys and stand up for what was right in the wild west. His fighting skills were inspirational–hands and feet so fast they needed to show many of the fights in slow motion. The lessons Kwai Chang learned each episode were a big attraction for me. I came to admire his wisdom as much as his fighting ability.
Children today are no different. They need role models. They need to have someone on their side who stands for good and fights evil at every turn. It helps them, as they often feel very small and powerless, to be big and strong, at least in their minds. Through play they can feel brave, fearless, in control of their world. Heroes help children believe in themselves and their ability to make a difference.
Children also learn that even Superheroes are “human” and have weaknesses. Spiderman had lots of personal issues, and Superman was weakened by Kryponite. Captain America was puny and frail in real life. Superheroes are also humble. They do not seek fame, their true identities are always kept secret. They only seek truth and justice.
Kids need to have an outlet to burn off excess energy, and to role play, learning how to get along in the real world through interaction with others.
I believe adults still need role models. They help us to stay inspired. I cannot wait to see the Captain America movie.
“As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary”. Ernest Hemingway, famous American novelist
Who is your superhero?