I was wrong. I’ll say that again to let it sink in for people who know me. I was wrong. In a post I wrote awhile back, I stated that superheroes aren’t real. Well, they are. There may not be web-slingers swinging around New York City arresting burglars, and there may not be superhuman gods from other planets saving the world on a daily basis, but I assure you we are in good hands.
Yesterday, a five-year-old boy dressed as Batman “saved” San Francisco as part of an elaborate Make-A-Wish spectacle. I began following this event early in the day when I saw the hashtag “#SFBatkid” on Twitter. I quickly researched what it was all about, and I learned that the Greater Bay Area chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation had organized a day-long adventure for a five-year old boy named Miles, who had finished a round of treatment for his leukemia in June and is now in remission.
The boy’s wish was simple, albeit allegorical in its nature. He wished to be Batman, or “Batkid” in this case. The people at Make-A-Wish deserve all of the credit in the world for turning a child’s wish into a reality, especially considering the scale at which it was organized and promoted. Reports stated that over 11,000 people volunteered to turn San Francisco into Gotham City for the day, providing Miles with an opportunity to rescue a damsel in distress, stop a bank robbery, and save the San Francisco Giants’ mascot from the Penguin’s captivity.
Thousands of people gathered on the streets to witness this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and to support this brave little boy. Some people were there to take photographs; others were there to be a part of something extraordinary. Regardless of why people showed up or why people volunteered to help, the truth is that a five-year-old kid dressed as a superhero provided us with more hope than any comic book, movie, or actor could possibly provide.
And what happened next was amazing. The boy took off his mask and we realized that he doesn’t need a costume to be a superhero. Superheroes are often viewed as being more than human — possessing superpowers or abilities that the average person could only dream of. But maybe Miles is a superhero because he’s human, because he dreams. If anything, it takes more courage to fight crime, adversity, and cancer without superpowers and high tech gadgets.
Most superheroes aren’t considered “super” because they keep cities safe and rescue women from dark alleys. What makes them “super” is the hope they instill in everyone. The hope that somebody has our backs. The hope that good will overpower evil. The hope that drives us to fight through whatever may be holding us back and become super ourselves. We could use some more heroes like that.
Yesterday proved that the imaginative people at Make-A-Wish, the thousands of dedicated volunteers, and courageous children like Miles are the heroes we deserve — and certainly the ones we need right now.