I look back on the things I’ve written occasionally and discover old parts of me that I can treasure and hold on to nostalgically. This is one of those pieces. What follows is the script for a speech that I wrote for the Rotary 4-Way Test Speech Competition when I was a senior in high school. My views have since changed, and the contents to follow reflect a younger more auspicious comic enthusiast. I had not yet been exposed to comics in the intensity that I have now, but it shows just what a character can do to the mind of the uninitiated, revealing his/her universal inspiration.
“Why the World Needs Superman”
Circa May 2007
Truth, justice, selflessness. Superman meant all these things to me. To me and to any young boy Superman is more than a mere character in a Sunday strip from some long past decade. And more than just a blot of ink on a page. Because what is Superman?
One of his fellow compatriots described him as a man who “had many talents and gifts” and “one who would share them freely,” and stated merely that above all his super human abilities that we know his greatest intrinsic ability was his “power to discern what needed to be done and his unwavering courage in doing it, whatever the personal cost.”
It was no mistake that the creators of the Comic, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel placed this mild mannered soon to be symbol of heroism in a plain corn field to be found by an elderly mid western couple. Commentators on the series seem to think that this is where superman garnered all his moral fiber. Because Superman was never meant to be a special individual, but a different one. Superman was to be humble, reserved, and calm in the darkest moments and always restrain his full strength to keep himself form injuring even those that he fought against in the heat of battle. It’s occasionally interesting to remark Superman’s clarity and focus, in his last final moments as he uttered in a raspy and broken voice, “Doomsday… is he… is he…”, the last and final words of the hero when he died in January 1993, issue #75. Though it may seem foolish to remark a fictional hero as such a great man, even the world of reality on CNN took time to honor the death of America’s long standing hero for 3 generations of American youth, all starting with a small town family of Kents, to raise up on their farm a humble yet noble judicator presenting a rather interesting origin for the strongest man in the DC comic book legacy.
The everyday ethics of people, influence the actions of others. Such ethics define the standards of modern culture. One would understand why a petty thief wouldn’t pause from perusing the contents of an elderly man’s pocket if he knew Superman could be watching. But, just maybe, that thief would recognize the heart of the noble Kryptonian. And perhaps if that thief were a boy he too would seek him out as a model for good.
Is it not often that we learn from example of others? Imagine the implications of it all. Great men appear in the presence of great events or great individuals. Great men rise to the occasion in times of struggle. Men like Winston Churchill rose to the challenge of leadership and represented the great maritime nation of England In WWII. Great mean like Martin Luther King Jr. made the decision to compromise his security, his reputation, and his own life to stand for a goal that meant his very being all because of predecessors of his message like Mohandas Gandhi, who in another age advocated the equal civil rights of those from any socio-economic origin. Humble men rose from humble beginnings like Abraham Lincoln who living apart from the destruction and despair of America’s Great Civil War spoke that “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” And even perhaps Ronald Regan who established himself in the face of Communism and Totalitarianism reflects that the world needs character and a focus of justice in the world.
I know Superman would. Golly, I bet he would. There is an absence of clarity, of role models, civic leaders, and outstanding members of society to lead us through the darkness of the world. Especially today, in a world where pop culture and mainstream press focuses on telling people how ugly they are or what ethics they should infringe upon to make their lives just a little better.
I could wager without pause of thought to say that I’d give anything to see the Man of Steel with us: a civic figure, an embodiment of justice, integrity, and honor, a man that showed the world what is meant to be a hero. Because whether or not Superman need or need not exist in today’s world it is up to the people of the world to accept what doctrine he stood for.
So in application to the 4 way test:
Is it the truth?
Would you stand by a symbol for justice, or for corruption?
Is it Fair to all Concerned?
Would it be fair to assume, that if a poor inner city child knew that there existed a man willing to sacrifice everything, a man that would put his life selflessly in place of his, that this boy would perhaps live out a better fuller life?
Would it build good will and better friendships?
Would the presence of a man, who’s wisdom and knowledge predicated the good nature of the human spirit, build for a better world?
Would it be Beneficial to all concerned?
Would we all feel just a little bit better knowing that our lives were watched over by an almost omnipotent individual?
Perhaps we all would. I know I would. And maybe now you too will know why the World needs a Superman.