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Since 1938, Superman has been the template for every superhero that has come after him. Countless advertures in films, television, animation, and especially comic books have inspired people to look for the best in people and stand up for what is right.
In America following the events of 9/11, the concept of what is a hero has returned to its origins. Before 9/11, there was a belief that a heroes were people that were celebrities, athletes, and criminals. It looked like Superman's ideals were in danger of being lost, relegated to comic books.
Since that tragic day, Americans saw first hand what really makes a hero. The real world heroics of the Police, Firemen/women, Ambulance workers, and ordinary people who helped the victims of the terrorist attacks and even sacrificed their own lives in the process to save others. These people didn't have superpowers nor wore spandex to show their courage. They've been heroes all along and we knew it... we just hadn't acknowledged it in a while.
Since then, our concept of what a hero is has changed. Living with the fear of future terrorist attacks and uncertainity has made us ask "Where's Superman?" The truth is he does exist. It's not the powers nor costume that defines Superman, it's the morals. Superman has evolved from the embodiment of America to what we as human beings can strive to become if we can constructively use our talents and potential in a positve light.
We now live in a time of uncertainty and fear. We need positive images and reinforcement to help us keep our faith in the best of humanity. If we allow what the terrorists did take away our beliefs and positive nature, then the terrorists win.
Fighting the neverending battle is no longer Superman's job, it's ours as well. We must remind ourselves to also not succumb to fear and hate. Our Arab brothers and sisters are also outraged and not our enemies. Scapegoating them will not bring the victims of 9/11 back, we should be angry at the terrorists, not them. Blaming an entire race for the actions of a few isn't fair and its wrong.
Standing up to hate and intolerance is what Supeman would do too. Back in 1990, the Superman comic books had a 3 part storyarc entitled "The Sinbad Contract" which dealt with those same issues and they're still relevant over a decade later.
All of us are superheroes when we take a stand against injustice. All it requires us to have is courage and faith. Superman is within us, it's our choice to decide whether or not we want to use it.