Monday, July 21, 2008
A couple of weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with some of my closest friends, posing the question: "If you had the choice, who would you be - Superman or Batman?"
To much friendly ridicule, I was the only one who chose Batman. So when I turned on the tube at the end of today's workday and saw a History Channel special on the psychology of Batman, I had to watch it.
Here's the summary with a few quotes that I paraphrased...
Batman operates within a moral code that's incredibly strict. In spite of loneliness, in spite of bereavement, in spite of some factors that would be quite unbalancing for anyone else, Batman exercises incredible self-regulation. When faced with the option of bending the rules and getting away with inaction or cowardice, he makes the choice to uphold his ideal of protecting innocent people from criminal acts. He does not compromise his principles.
It's easy to make any choice when there are no consequences for you. For a hero, those choices are monumental. And in an "ordered" society where the law is open to interpretation, someone with a rock-solid dedication to justice can be seen as a vigilante by those who are appointed by society to protect them, but are not solidly committed to the same ideals.
The villains define the hero. The heroes are the ones who often believe, "Something bad happened to me, and I'm going to make sure that it doesn't happen to anyone else."
The last of the human freedoms is the attitude one adopts towards life. The importance of choice is the incredible power when one consistently chooses the same choice time and time again, to champion good and to affirm life.
His extraordinary capacity for self-discipline is Batman's real "superpower". He made the choice to take an enormous tragedy and shaped his life in a way that was totally dedicated to the service of humanity. He shows us the greatness of what humans can be and provides a hope that all of us need.
This is why I chose Batman. This is life in Hard Style.