What makes a hero? Is it the super powers? The skill sets? The gadgets? Our intentions? Our actions?
I’m a comic book guy through and through so these are the questions that haunt me. There are moments in our lives that define us. That we allow to define us through our choices, our mistakes and how we respond to them. Sometimes those moments are big, sometimes they are minute. But in those moments we definitely learn the content of our character.
Here’s an example.
Some years back I was in art school and a friend of mine, Cat, had come down to Atlanta over the weekend to see me. While I was walking her back to her truck, there was this young black couple arguing and screaming on the other side of the apartment complex.
At first I thought this was some stupid BET drama. I was about to laugh at those two and go back inside. I don’t do drama or foolishness and a new episode of Justice League Unlimited was on. So you know… priorities.
However when the young woman attempted to leave, the guy blocked her path and grabbed her arms and told her she wasn’t going anywhere.
Oh hell to the no. You don’t lay hands on a female. You damn sure don’t touch a black woman on my watch. That’s a good way to get your jaw broken.
Cat and I walked up to the pair and I asked the young woman if she was okay and if she need me to call someone. Little Ike Turner decided to cuss me out and tell me to mind my business. I then informed him that I’m not his girlfriend. I’m a man, a real black man and it would be in his best interest to lower his voice and take the bass out of it before I do it for him. The girlfriend managed to slip away while we argued.
My friend Cat tried to reason with Chris Brown and explained that we were getting involved because he’s putting hands on a woman and from our perspective this looks serious. This idiot continued to mouth off and threaten me.
I made it clear what I think of woman beaters, and what he WAS NOT going to do was touch a black woman on my watch and if he insists on stepping to this Clark Kent; he’s going to meet Lucas Trent.
He kept reaching for his baggy sagging pants (and possibly a weapon) so I’m already thinking someone is about to catch a case and someone is about to leave in a body bag. Because like The Original X-Man, Brother Malcolm, I don’t call it violence when it’s self defense. I call it intelligence.
Meanwhile Cat, little Miss Republican Southern Belle and proud NRA member, had her hand in her purse and was about to invite her buddies Smith and Wesson.
Then I remembered that while I would love nothing more than to do the Riverdance on top of this wannabe thug’s skull, I don’t have to do anything. Violence isn’t always the answer. I remembered that I lived in the wealthy white part of town and things work differently there. I called 911 and the cops arrived in less than 5 minutes. When Edward Cullen saw me calling Johnny Law, he quickly vanished.
It’s not the powers or skills, it’s the choices that defines us. Whether it’s hero or villain or somewhere in between. For me, it was never about being a white knight or savior. It was about helping someone I thought was in need. How could I not? Maybe the media does influence us and maybe I read too many comic books and watch too many superhero cartoons. But I look at it like this. I’ve got younger sisters. Love them to death. If they were in trouble and someone was in a position to help them, I would hope they would. Evil thrives when people do nothing.
I don’t consider myself a hero. But I will say this. Later on, while watching JLU, I pondered on the previous events. I like to think Wonder Woman and the rest of the League would’ve been most pleased with me.
And they say you don’t learn anything from cartoons.