I was talking to my sister the other day and we were talking about something mothers often talk about, how to get your children to develop their talents and then use them for good. My sister has a talent for classic one-liners and she said that she just needed to get her son to 'use his superpowers for the good of mankind'. Exactly! We had a good laugh.
Her comment got me thinking about a lot of things. There was a cute little grandmother that lived in our neighborhood growing up. She was old when I met her at the age of 5, but she has lived a long life and is still going. She is very old now. She had a habit of writing down birthdays and anniversaries and other important dates on a little calendar. For years and years she has sent me a card on my birthday. She remembered my anniversary. She sent cards for my graduations. She sent these little remembrances to me, but also to hundreds of others who have fallen into her wide circle of love. I once mentioned how amazed I was by this gift to my mother who said, "I know, think of all the good this sweet little woman has done with just a calendar." She made a small gift go a long way. A superpower?
There is enough trouble, enough darkness, enough sadness in the world without adding to it. I find in the media, in music, in literature and in art those who possess great talent, enviable talent, but they use it to create further darkness. Their talent is then destructive, wasted.
One of my favorite books is Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. The story is dark. The character of Jean Valjean has many troubles and yet one act of kindness purchases his soul for good and ever after he returns every evil act with one of generosity and kindness. In a dark world, the light of his example still inspires.
It's easier to get attention by being shocking, ugly and dark, but the attention is short lived. Immortality belongs to those who use meagre or great talents to create a spot of light, a place of beauty, a moment of peace. They will always be remembered.
My great uncle passed away recently. He was a great man and a hero of mine. At his funeral, his son told a story:
Dad was a supervisor at a large mine. When I was about five years old, he took me deep into the mine so that I could see it. After looking around for a time, I told him that it was too dark and I was frightened. He said, "take my hand and I will lead you into the light." .. and he has done that for me my whole life.
There is no life that hasn't been touched by some trouble, some darkness. When we come through trouble, we can find a way to show compassion to another and help them find their way. When we are in trouble, we can take the hand of a friend. We can look to the light, even if it is just a tiny pin point of hope, we can move toward it.
It is the responsibility of artists to uncover the places where light, peace and beauty exist and show them to the world. It is the responsibility of art to banish the darkness by exposing the despots, tyrants, evil, lies and unkindness with such a bright light they must melt away like the Dorothy's wicked witch.
In all seriousness, I believe that each of us has been given a superpower. They grow in strength when they are used for good. They can make us immortal. Or, if our intentions are ugly or wicked our life's efforts can disappear into the oblivion of the ages. The world has many troubles.. no gift no matter how small should be left unused. Use your superpowers for the good of mankind.. Today!