So, Sunday I went to the theater to see the newest Captain America movie. I highly recommend it. It has some humor, it is genuinely fun to watch and is even a pretty good piece of social commentary on the dangers of mass data collection and to much power in the hands of to few people. A good watch and worth the price of admission. I remembered a few things about Captain America and reading the comic books as a child that I had forgotten as well. Things that actually matter and, oddly enough, lessons that helped shape the ideas and attitudes of a young boy.
The first thing that I remembered was Captain America’s greatest power. It was not the shield, even if he is the only person to be able to make a shield look cool, it wasn’t the training or even the super soldier serum. It was, simply, that he believed. Captain America believed that the world not only could be better than it was, he believed that it should be. He didn’t just fight the notorious super villains, he fought bigotry, racial injustice, drug addiction. He helped soldiers deal with PTSD, he saved prostitutes being victimized, he helped criminals who wanted to reform. He did the right thing no matter the cost. Most importantly, when he made a mistake, he didn’t just say he was sorry, he made amends and made things right. He believed that everyone around him could be more than they knew, then he inspired them to be.
The second thing I remembered, is that when he corrected someone, it never seemed condescending, it just seemed like he cared. One of my favorite lines in the comics has Captain America falling on top of an F-15 fighter jet canopy. The pilot exclaims “jeezus!” Captain says, “Just keep flying son and watch that potty mouth.” That is just who Captain America was. He wasn’t nasty, he wasn’t mean, he just reminded you to that you could be better and encouraged you to be better.
The last thing was that he knew what he was fighting for. He had seen and experienced things that caused him to be driven and not to give up. “Ninety percent of the casualties of World War I were soldiers. But half the people who died in World War II were civilians… Half of sixty-one million. I know why I’m fighting, I don’t want to see World War III.” and “There’s a difference between fighting against evil and fighting for the common good. I’m not always able to choose my battles… but effective immediately, I’m going to make an effort to choose the battles that matter. Battles against injustice, against cynicism, against intolerance. I will still serve with the Avengers. I will continue to defend this nation from any and all threats it may face. But as of today, I am not a “super hero.” Now and forevermore, I am a man of the people. Together, you and I will identify and confront America’s problems. Together, we will figure out what we are and what we can be. ” Captain America.
I really do encourage you to go see the Captain America movie. Like I said, it’s a fun watch. While you watch it though, don’t think of Captain America so much as a superhero, think of him as an idea. An idea of what we can be, and should be. A reminder that we can be better than we are. A reminder that, even if we don’t realize it, there is much more at stake than us and what we want. A reminder that we should be so dedicated that we could say the following: “These are dark and desperate times. I know that some of you are afraid. It’s alright. It’s perfectly natural. But I want you to know that I am not. I am not afraid to die this day because what we do here is necessary. It may seem impossible, our enemies may appear to be endless, but that doesn’t matter. Because there is no one else. Look at me. I believe in an idea, an idea that a single individual who has the right heart and the right mind that is consumed with a single purpose, that one man can win a war. Give that one man a group of people with the same conviction, and you can change the world.” Captain America, Let’s be a people with the same conviction. Let’s stop talking about changing the world, and actually go and do it.