There is a magic in the story of the superhero who takes on the great and torturous responsibility of defending good and fighting evil. From Superman, Spiderman and Batman to Wonder-woman, Dr Jean Gray and Susan Storm, for decades I have been entertained and inspired by fantastic, heart-thumping, tearjerking and inspirational tales.
Recently I have taken to watching Stan Lee's Superhero's on Discovery Channel, which profiles real life people with amazing abilities and seeks to determine whether they are Superhero's or not. First, let me declare that I am a huge Stan Lee fan. He is the prolific creator of some of our greatest fictional characters. He co- created the Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Iron Man, Thor, and my firm favorite, the X-men. Like JR Tolkien and CS Lewis, I have always believed that fantastic adventures and dramatic story lines can capture the hearts and minds of children and help them develop strong value systems and a strong passion for good.
This powerful form of influence strikes me as all the more important as I watch Stan Lee look into the possibility that real life Superhero's are walking the earth each and every day. While the people he profiles show amazing physical capabilities beyond the limits of ordinary human beings, it is the power of mind over matter that seems to repeatedly have an impact on these abilities. Determination to rise above the odds and achieve a greater end - that to me is the spirit of the superhero, and I am delighted to say that there are many walking the earth today.
Let me finish with the words of one of my favourite Superhero's ever, the simple fictional Samwise Gamjee of the Lord of the Rings. Speaking to Frodo, he said...
"I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something."
Frodo: "What are we holding onto, Sam?"
Sam: "That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for."
My greatest superheroes are the simple and ordinary people who are thrust into greatness by fighting for something good in the world...
Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, our very own Wangari - and the greatest of them all, Jesus Christ.
Do you have some real life Superhero's that you admire and respect?