Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tales of a Dying Superman

This is a post written Brian Daniel, that I thought was worth sharing.  You can check out his blog by clicking here.  Enjoy the read….I did!

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Small Groupologist Rick Howerton is fond of putting a note of authenticity to what is typically a mundane question when he asks, “How are you doing REALLY?” Recently I had an opportunity to have
lunch with a friend I spent some of my high school and all of my
college years with. Right away I asked him how he Superman was doing, he said
“fine.” There was a pause. The word “really”  hung in the air for a
moment before he added, “I don’t know. Sometimes I think bad thoughts.”

“Like what?”

“Like, ‘I wonder what would happen if I just left.’”

“What do you mean, ‘left’?”

“‘Left’ as in ‘left and never came back.’”

Of course we talked our way through it for a few minutes. He wasn’t
serious. At least, wasn’t serious in considering walking out on his
life. But what he was saying was how tired of the routines and the
mundane of life he has become. This can’t be uncommon in men getting
close to 40 or thereabouts. The word my friend used was “trapped.” In
an email exchange I had with yet another friend in this demographic I
got the following:

“I wake up a lot of days and have the same what I’ll
call malaise. It’s like the new day I’m facing is the exact same day I
had yesterday and tomorrow doesn’t promise to be much different or

Now that’s just being honest. Who can’t relate to something on the level of Groundhog Day
at least for stretches (for me it tends to be January-March). Neither
of these men would describe the lives as bad or their families as
anything other than a blessing. I’ve known them both for most of my
life and can honestly say that I love them. They’re both very
successful at what they do. But I do wonder what the sum of these
conversations is and what implication it has for the larger culture of
today. In what ways have we both robbed ourselves and, perhaps, been
robbed of adventure—which would seem to be part of the issue at hand.

If you take a moment to consider the various radio commercials you
hear as well as the corporate advertisements seen on television,  but
particularly television sitcoms, the sum of it is that it appears that
masculinity has been lost. There was time when every young boy dreamed
of being Superman. It was reinforced in our heroes, our culture—the
fact is that something was expected; that life demanded
something of you. A boy was expected to look the inevitable storms in
the eye, forge a path through the night and face the darkness, and grow
into significance. This is not commentary on leadership, but on
masculinity. This is how a man bears God’s image. Alas Superman! But
our culture it seems would like nothing more than to tear this image
down. Of course during peace times—times with little to no adversity,
strife, and war—this attribute of masculinity isn’t as vital. The
mistake that’s made, however, is that these times of perceived peace
are just that: perceived. The reality is that we are always at war and
masculinity should always be summoned into the breach of the battles
set before us. These battles tend to call out the best in us.

We need Superman, or what Friedrich Nietzsche referred to as the ubermensch
that overcomes traditional boundaries to rise above the herd. Symptoms
like the conversations I describe above are indicative of a dying
Superman, a Superman robbed of battle and adventure, conditioned to be
content to sit in front of the television on Saturdays and Sundays. But
instead we are moving more and more into a liberal era that continues
to look to external agencies like government for solutions and rescue
instead of the latent heroes within us. There is a Superman within us …
all of us. This, I can’t help but believe, is the essence of the human

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