If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?
I was recently asked this question during an interview, and it made me think.
Superheroes have fighting powers: they’re fast, they’re strong, they have super hearing or x-ray vision, they can fly . . .
It makes sense. We evolved in a world where we needed to fight to stay alive. That world had wild animals ready to tear us to shreds. That world had limited resources our species had to fight over to survive. May the best man win. Of course the idea of fighting still gives us a rush of adrenaline.
But now, here in Canada, people aren’t getting mauled by bears. We have enough knowledge and technology that there could be resources for everyone. Our problems seem puny compared to those of our ancestors: they’re no longer a matter of life and death. But they’re also so much more complicated, no longer black and white. So we make supervillains for our superheroes to fight, and everything gets simple again. While a good form of catharsis, it ignores the real problems.
If I could have any superpower, I’d like to be able to let people feel peace: to be able to lay my hand on someone’s forehead and let them, for a time, step out of this world to just be happy. The world’s gotten so big and it’s filled with so many emotions: euphoria, love, anger, stress, hurt, loneliness, emptiness. Sometimes plain old happiness becomes impossible to grasp. I’d never want to change anyone, just give them chance to take a breather, so they could return to face the world rejuvenated. I’d want them to be able to access that peace whenever they needed it.
Traditional superheroes are great at catching the bad guys, but we don’t have bad guys. We have people. There’s good and bad in everyone. But if people could have peace and happiness, perhaps it would help them access their inner good, help them make decisions for the right reasons. If all people felt security in their own happiness, they’d have no reason to hurt others.
I’m not saying we should stop reading superhero comics or watching the shows. I’m way too much of a nerd for that. Additionally, superheroes still have so many great values that can inspire us, including those of kindness and forgiveness. We just need to stop focusing on the fight. Fighting is the easy choice – it’s what we’re programmed to do – but it isn’t the answer anymore. Maybe we can’t bring artificial peace, either. But the harder, more mundane ability to be kind to others, to forgive, those are superpowers we could all possess. With them, perhaps we can save the world.