On heroes.

The other week I went with my beloved to see the latest reboot of Superman, Man Of Steel. While I made a huff and a puff over it all, in reality I was just joshing. Out of all the superhero tales out there, Superman is one of my favourites.

As I was watched the film I was wondering what it was about him that I preferred over every other.  I realised eventually that it wasn’t so much his ridiculous jocks-over-tights combo (although the reboot version was sorely lacking in this element), it wasn’t the muscles on the fella (although I did audibly gasp at the sight of them, much to the amusement of my beloved) and it wasn’t even the ridiculous smile-to-camera shots made by an actor steering his fists through a studio against the magic green screen.

I finally came to the conclusion that I love Superman for his goodness, his bravery and strength. I know when it comes to the diehard superhero fans, that there’s a lot to criticize about the guy and that for a layman like me, I only have the credentials to talk about his cape and boots, but I really do relish his character. 

Superman fights for justice. He stands up for what is right and he has no desire to harm. He is the bravest man and can defy his battles and natural disasters with strength of mind and of muscle. Lois Lane also fights for justice with her journalistic ethics even when appearing like a crazy woman. And even old Zod, fabulously played by Michael Shannon, fights for what is right and true, albeit with poor and misguided tactics. 

Ultimately, I enjoy the idea of goodness and those who fight for it. I love the idea of a man or woman who is heroic in nature. I love the idea of strength and bravery as character traits. As I left the film, I lamented the lack of heroes “in real life”.

And then I stopped myself. 

I don’t need to go far to find myself a hero. I don’t even need to go beyond my family. 

This week my poor Dad lies in hospital as he is treated for Parkinson’s disease. For two weeks he will be put through a regime of testing medications and monitoring movements. It’s a cruel and destructive monster and I hate to say it, but I hate it with all my heart. It debilitates the body and causes someone like my Dad — who is a smart and kind and generous soul — to be hindered in his passion for life and spending time mentoring and leading people he loves. 

But despite the physical ailments that prevent him from standing straight, from sleeping through the night, from walking like a ‘normal person’ and getting out to see all the people he loves, my Dad embodies all that is a hero.

Because when I think of wisdom, when I think of honesty, when I think of scallwaggery and practical jokes, when I think of honour, when I think of all the life lessons I learned (including how to bowl a cricket ball, catch a fish, climb a tree, play a guitar and love others before myself), when I think of someone who faces life in all its ups and downs with absolute grace and faith and perseverance, and when I think of love – I think of the best father I could have ever have hoped for.

I think of a hero who never stops giving up on fighting the good fight. A man who fights for justice and love. A guy who will always put others before himself despite the physical pain and emotional hurt. 

My Dad is part of the walking wounded. Those people who hurt emotionally and physically every day of their lives. The wounded walk side-by-side with us on a daily basis. But they can often be forgotten or misunderstood and sometimes never healed.

My eyes have been open to the ways of the wounded since they became my own to share — in the shoes of a loved one.

I urge you to think about and show your love to those who hurt. And for those who don’t appear to, because you may never know the difference. We all suffer and we all have plights. And for those who hurt more obviously, do your darnedest not to judge or be critical. Don’t wonder at the words or ways of the wounded — these are often born of fear and erroneous shame; they come from a place that was once never perceived to be possibly real. A place where nightmares steal sleep and haunt the living daylight.

So forget your gripes, your niggles your tiffs and troubles — just go out there and love those who need loving. Which, is everyone. 

Anyone can be a hero. It’s not about a latex suit, a red cape, a set of cannons on the arms or a smile that flashes white brilliance while lifting a meteorite; a hero is anyone who fights for what is right and true despite the obstacles that come across their path.

As a child, my Dad was my hero because he was so strong and brave. Like Superman. The thing is, he’s never stopped being my hero, for the strength and bravery he demonstrates daily — now more than ever before — is far greater than I’d ever imagined possible or would ever be able to possess.   

I want to get my Dad a tshirt with the letter ‘s’ on it. Because just like in Man of Steel,  the ‘s’ doesn’t stand for Superman. It stands for Hope.