I've been thinking about this subject for a while now and figured, it's about time I got around to posting about it.
Recently, I've been wasting my time playing a certain online superhero MMORPG (That's massive multiplayer online role playing game folks). It's been fun though a bit of a distraction from the writing. Anyway, in the game you get to make a superhero character that runs around saving the day, beating up bad guys, and rescuing people.
Where did these spandex clad heroes come from anyway and what is our fascination with them? Let's hop into the Way-Back Machine and go back to the 1600s. A bunch of disgruntled and adventurous Europeans decided to come to this continent, kick out the natives, and set up shop on the edge of the untamed wilderness. Fast forward to the 1800s and we were still doing it. Settlers were moving ever westward into the wilderness with a sense of can-do spirit and a whole lot of independence. This ever westward expanding edge of civilization was a place of lawlessness. The weak perished, the strong survived. Vigilante justice was the rule of the day because the lawmen were spread far and thin.
By the 20th century, the wilderness of yesteryear was gone and America looked back with rose colored lenses at those rough and tumble days with nostalgia. Western novels and films were big, creating a mythos around our own history. At the same time, new stories were beginning to emerge, bringing the vigilante spirit of the old west to the modern day. The Lone Ranger, Pecos Bill, John Henry, and Paul Bunyan found modern compatriots in the likes of the Phantom, Dick Tracey, Superman, and Captain America.
What all of these heroes had in common was the spirit of 'can-do'. Even when everything was going wrong, these men believed in themselves that they could make things right. Part of what makes this country great today, is that we are empowered to make a difference in the world. We don't have to don spandex and wear our underwear on the outside, but we have the freedom to make the world a better place. It may or may not be a uniquely American ability, but it is in our blood from our founding fathers down through the generations to us. There is no frontier we can't conquer. Our folklore is filled with such tales, the lone man (or woman), standing up to make a difference against all the odds.
This Tuesday is another election. Don't forget to vote. Few enough people in the world have this right to have a voice in their government. Don't squander yours. It was paid for with the blood of real life heroes who were no more super powered than you or me.