Once a year, Filipinos celebrate National Heroes’ Day.
The other 364 days are Marvel, DC or other Disney franchise days.
Like it or not, fictional superheroes are remembered far more often than our textbook heroes. After all, mass media clobbers us with facts about them every. single. day. The abilty to shatter pavement, teleport though steel, or soar through clouds seems especially appealing – given Manila traffic – compared to the equally-heroic-yet-more-mundane-act of tearing up your employment contract.
Though while we admire heroes for fantastic abilities, we fall in love with their flaws.
Black Widow reminds us that despite a dark past, she kicks ass. The Hulk shows us the pain required in embracing all of oneself, to access immense personal strength. Thor demonstrates that a fallen god’s rise is determined by character, not lineage.
To become our own story’s hero, it’s important we identify and address, our failings – whether it’s a dark past, a dark side, or a dark place we fear to tread. Because if we don’t, villains slowly win. Bigotry, intolerance, and corruption are far more insidious than genius-psychopaths, mischivious gods extra-dimensional beings, or ring-crazy hobbits – and they are real.
Country-sized issues like poverty, ecological destruction and, foreign invasion mean aspiring super heroes have no shortage of villains to confront – yet finding solutions for this vision may be harder than acquiring an infinity stone. Maybe we should start with a vision.
Being careful about what we share on social media, speaking up when someone line-cuts, or not jeering at seeing a same-sex handhold – are small, brave things we can do everyday – to make lives for others, a little less in need of avenging.
A “National Heroes Day” is concerned with saving a bit of our past. Perhaps every other day should be spent, saving a bit of our future.
I am not proposing this is the only way forward. But it seems like a good place to start.