Friday, January 20, 2017

Kindness is Greatness, or Why Superman is Better than Batman

Perhaps it's the news and the subscriptions that I come across, but with the most recent election and transition, I feel that America has become mean. While violence is down, the number of posts on Facebook that are petty, cruel, and just vitriolic feel like they have multiplied exponentially. I can't help but feel that this negativity feeds and empowers negativity. One side of politics argue that Trump has emboldened bigots, but likewise, negative and cruel posts embolden negative and cruel posts. While we tend to agree with those negative and cruel posts that correspond with our line of thinking, nonetheless, cruelty does not have a side in party politics and attacks everyone indiscriminately. When we attack a person for an immutable characteristic, like the color of his hair, then we make it that much easier to attack someone for an immutable characteristic such as color of skin. No single snowflake believes it is the cause of the avalanche.

Additionally, I am disappointed by the shortsightedness of those claiming that democracy is over. This is our nation's finest moment. In fact, this peaceful transition of power that occurred while a large portion of the population is angry is the greatest demonstration of the ingenuity of our system of government.

I look back to my Mormon days, college days, and my grandfather for the path forward. While at BYU studying Alexis de Tocqueville, we sought after the answer to the question, "What is greatness?" In a LDS general conference talk by Elder Wirthlin (I believe), he said, "Kindness is greatness." While a conclusory statement, nonetheless is struck me as true. It is a simple statement. To be kind in times of adversity is truly great. It embodies all other principles of greatness such as integrity, magnanimity, generosity, and humility. I heard a rumor that my Grandpa Al never said an unkind word about someone except once. I don't know if that rumor is true, and the ideal is more important than the truth anyway. So today, to make America great again, I aspire to be kind. Nothing more. Nothing less.

To be kind does not mean to be indifferent or unengaged. It means just the opposite. We must stand up for correct principles and for those in less fortunate positions than ourselves. We must take an open stance on those issues we believe to be correct and work to dispel ignorance. This all must be done while avoiding personal attacks and dehumanizing those with whom we disagree. There is no need for name calling or labeling. The Mormons (and probably Christians as a whole) state, "Hate the sin, love the sinner." Today, most feel it a waste of time to try and differentiate the two causing us to dehumanize. It seems that traditional principles of "turn the other cheek" and "take the high ground" have long been forgotten in this age of the anti-hero. And this brings me to my last point, which this would not be my article if not for this final point.

I've always been a proponent of Superman over Batman. Of Captain America over Iron Man. I love the traditional good super-hero over the more popular anti-hero. The reason is because it is easy to be the anti-hero. It is easy to beat your enemy to an inch within her life and to use the same tactics as the bad people of the world. Sure your anti-heros save the world and make it a safer place, but hey don't do much more. They don't make it a better place. They don't inspire by acts of kindness. Batman would never take time out of his day to rescue a cat from a tree. But Superman is most iconic when shown in this light. Superman is great because given unfettered power, he is most powerful when he is simply being kind.

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