Superman is an alien from another planet with some amazing pretty powers. To us mere humans his kryptonian physiology is almost God-like in comparison. This got me to thinking about the morals shown by this guy in tights and how we view him. You’re hereby invited to jack into my stream of consciousness and see where it leads us!
First my favorite song about Superman in the whole world, literally at the top of my Superman playlist. (Yeah I got a superman playlist, don’t giggle too much.)
Superman is a pretty cool guy, one of the first things the song explains is he isn’t in it for the money. He helps other people for one simple reason, because he can. This is something worth emulating I think. Taking on not only personal responsibility, but taking on responsibility for others because he is capable of making a difference.
Another of his morals is he doesn’t sit around doing nothing when he can do something. Since he is such an awesome guy, we often see him faced with moral quandaries that push the boundaries of what he can and can’t do.
It’s why even superman has his kryptonite:1
For us to like the guy he needs to have a weakness. That’s because without the weakness he can’t have the dilemma to face. Consider the following situation. Say some guy was gonna have his head cutoff by a terrorist. Supe’ is close by and doesn’t do a thing other than watch it. What would you think about it? Pretty awful right? Tie some kryptonite chains around him though and make it his friend that is getting murdered and it is a whole different story.
In one case he is a jerk just standing there doing nothing, in the other he is a hero we want to emulate. Consider the reason why. Does the agency of the terrorist come into play at all? Or is our judgment wholly dependent on Superman’s limitations?
Think about that. If Supe’ said I can’t intervene because I need to let that bad guy do whatever in the Jaheem he wants ’cause you know he’s free n’ all. Would you respect that answer? I don’t think so. At the very least you wouldn’t honor him at all for those kind of morals.
Of course if Supe started taking over the world and intervening in every way becoming a ruthless dictator you wouldn’t like him very much either. In fact some of the best stories are the ones where a bad guy like general Zod with just as much power aims to do exactly that.
It’s because you expect the good guy to exercise judgment. He should know when to be involved and when not to. Telling you which presidential candidate to vote for, eh not so much. Needless beheading… yeah that’s worth stepping in for.
Which brings me to my point. There is another guy, most call him God, some even think he is an alien from the star Kolob2 In most cases the power that God wields is believed to be far greater than that of Superman. So powerful that when asked, a believer in this guy can’t imagine a situation where his power might be constrained or out-matched. This God recently just stood by3 when some terrorists lopped the heads of some of his worshippers.
He did it, according to most believers, for pretty much the same reason that you would never accept from Superman. At least not and still think he was a decent guy. This God also ordered Abraham to kill his son as a sign of loyalty. Why you ask? because it was symbolic of him later having his kid slaughtered for all the world, not because he had to mind you (remember he’s all powerful!) No, he did it because he wanted to.4
So Supermans morals? Intervene and prevent a bad thing from happening if possible. God’s morals? Eh, we will just let that play out and see what happens.
When I think about it these days, if there really is an all powerful guy like superman up there in the sky cruising around watching out for me. Why is he more worried about finding my car keys than stopping people being killed for him?
To put it in better words read the response of a friend of mine to this Facebook post celebrating the all powerful guy that just stood by and watched.
I feel sick. I can’t even… I’ve had an experience where I was asked to renounce my faith under duress and I refused. I wasn’t killed, obviously, but I was beaten… At the time I considered it a spiritual experience that renewed my dedication to God….
I felt like God was there comforting me, that He was proud of me… but He didn’t DO a fucking thing to stop my abuser, just like He didn’t DO anything to stop these beheadings, and He didn’t DO anything to save the people thrown into fires for believing in Him…. What kind of God is that?
I used to buy that God doesn’t intervene out of respect for agency, until I experienced what it was like to be on the receiving end of someone choosing to assault me… actually even then I still swallowed it. It wasn’t until someone pointed out that anyone with any sense of decency and respect for life would intervene if they could. God’s supposedly all powerful, but for some reason His hands are tied.
Someone wants to behead people that believe in you and have faith in your grace and are willing to die in your name and you don’t save them because… agency? Fuck that!
It absolutely sickens me to see people taking comfort that these victims are now “in a better place” and hoping that they can also have the strength to be a martyr if it’s asked of them, and this God they’re putting their trust in continues to sit on His ass and do NOTHING. Who knows, maybe He approves. The beheadings are committed in the name of Allah after all…
I’m not all powerful. There are days it’s all I can do to take care of myself and my kid, let alone help others in need. But I damn sure try. And if I were all powerful, you can be damn sure I wouldn’t be twiddling my thumbs while others suffer.
Personally I think Superman’s morals are worth striving for. This God guy on the other hand not so much. So forgive me if I don’t kneel before your deity anymore. And for the love of Fridge. Please think a bit about the guy you have chosen to kneel before… You might have picked the villain to worship, because last time I checked Superman didn’t require anyone to kneel before him. It was this guy:
- Yeah this is on the play list too, don’t worry I won’t link them all! ↩
- In hind site this is one of the crazier Mormon beliefs, but it is true, look it up here. Maybe this is why I still like superman 🙂 ↩
- Of course it might have been Allah standing by watching and approving since the terrorists did it in his name I suppose, but I don’t think this blog gets much traction in the muslim community so we won’t delve into that bit of irony for now. ↩
- Some mormons believe that God was once a guy and is really more like superman with some limitations. God with a little ‘g’. You know, god-like relative to our own pitiful powers. It helps resolve this quandary a little bit, but not entirely if you think about it. There are so many other ways of dealing with forgiving people, one simple one is just saying it. ‘I forgive you.’ See no human sacrifice necessary! The LDS church has however gone more christian mainstream over the years, pulling away from that doctrine to be more line with standard Christianity and Islam where God has a big ‘G’ and can do as he pleases no matter what. These days you are hard pressed to find a Mormon that will admit they think god is limited to a small ‘g’. ↩