When does good go bad?

Luna seems a little young for it, but she LOVES watching superheros.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating that being able to watch these shows through her eyes, 15+ years after having watched them through the eyes of my other children, is giving me great perspective and insight. Some of this is probably due to my own growth and shift in perspective, in terms of what I am processing and focusing on at this stage of my life, in my forties, as opposed to the things that occupied my thoughts and energy when I was in my twenties and thirties.

One of the interesting things is seeing how a new generation of artists and producers have re-imagined and rebooted the newest incarnations of the superheros I grew up with.

This morning I discovered Justice League Unlimited on the CW. I turned it on for Luna with the intention of doing some of the more mundane organization and housekeeping tasks for upkeep on this blog. However, the story-line grabbed my attention, especially when Luna started having reactions to what she was seeing on the screen.

Captain Marvel made it into the Justice League. Since he is really a school-boy who transforms into a larger-than-life superhero with the magic word, “Shazaam!” all that meant was that a star-struck kid suddenly found himself among the very heroes he had idolized and worshiped, especially Superman. His youthful and naive enthusiasm, in combination with the fact the world at large didn’t know he was really a young boy, and that, for some inexplicable reason, the leadership of the League obviously hadn’t given him the guidance and mentoring he needed, led him into the path of the media and set him up to be the catalyst for bringing Superman down.

Superman was stern-faced, humorless, and formidable. He had a job to do and an image to maintain. He was leading from an authoritarian position of rigidity and close-mindedness. He forgot that he was part of a team and needed to be open to the input and feedback of his cohorts. It never occurred to him that the newbie might actually have fresh perspective and bring value to the team. He was guarded against the chinks in the armor having a new, inexperienced, and naive member on the team might open. His life-long experience of fighting against Lex Luthor had taken form in his psyche as an impenetrable armor of self-certainty in his righteousness.

Captain Marvel, in contrast, was eager, bright, and determined to prove himself. He was happy, open-minded, and trusting. Since he had recent experience of being looked down on, discounted, marginalized and criticized for not being the person others wanted and expected of him, in his kid persona, he found it easy to relate to and want to champion the “bad guy gone good,” Lex Luthor.

Superman was certain, justifiably so, that Lex could not and would not actually go good and that his apparent earnest and sincere change was part of a deeper plot and grander scheme. Therefore, whenever Captain Marvel was advocating for the Justice League and Superman to be open to the possibility of change, Superman would peremptorily shut him down, talk over him, interrupt, and discount everything he was saying. In that context, Captain Marvel’s advocacy for the possibility for Luthor’s change, was also his need and desire for someone to validate that he, himself, had grown and changed. He needed to know his voice was being heard, that he was valued, and ultimately he mattered to Superman and the rest of the Justice League team.

It was Luthor’s perfect set-up. He played on Marvel’s sympathies, inciting Superman’s suspicions and was able to be the divisive wedge between them. Consequently, he was able to set the scene to become the martyr to Superman’s suspicion and to his downfall in the eyes of the public. As a result of the heroes being in such destructive interpersonal relationship patterns with each other, they actually became the destructive forces for something that would have benefit the very people they were sworn to protect.

Sadly, this is not just a dynamic in a Saturday morning cartoon. It is prevalent in just about every aspect of just about every society. It exists in our homes, our schools, and our places of employment. It is one of the primary dynamics that resist organizational change and can take what was once a thriving, innovative, and effective enterprise and turn it into a dying, stagnating, bankrupt memory of what used to be. This is the very dynamic that underlies civil wars and creates massive rifts between generations, labor and management, and any other us v.s. them conflict.

I have participated on both sides of this equation throughout the various stages and many roles in my life: child, parent, wife, friend, co-worker, employee, recipient and representative of social services.

No one wants to be treated as though their thoughts, words, and experiences are meaningless and insignificant.

No one wants to be treated as though their time is over and they are obsolete.

Everyone wants to have their voice heard and their viewpoint validated.

In our world there is a false dichotomy of power and superiority. Somehow, one person’s view and perspective must gain or retain the power position. Otherwise, there is a breakdown of structure or an inevitable regression and degeneration in relevance. This is not true. What if, both, all, perspectives in the conversation could be seen, heard, and included? What if what works from each could be upheld and added, while what doesn’t work let go and removed from the mix? Can you imagine how much further the conversation could go and turn into action for transformative change?

I challenge you to choose one person in your life with whom you have the most resistance to listening to and/or who resists seeing your view and perspective. Make a conscious effort to truly listen and understand not just the words coming from his or her mouth. Ask questions to clarify and understand what their underlying understanding of the situation is. Learn what kinds of life experiences have been brought to the table with this person. Take the time to consider all the factors and how your perspective, experience, and knowledge can be integrated with the other’s.

Then, come back here and let me know what happened.

This is a Bloggers for Peace post.

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21 comments

  1. Beautifully shared… Sadly, we live in a world where many pay lip service to that notion of hearing all perspectives and valuing all contributions… At this point in my life, I’ve learned to look, listen, express, accept, and move on… Life is short. TY for the pingback. 🙂
    Eliz

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    1. Eliz,
      Thank you so much for visiting.

      You are so right about people paying lip service to this idea. I love your philosophy. It mirrors the one I’m developing.

      You are welcome for the pingback, just doing my part to promote other Bloggers for Peace :D.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  2. Great post, Kina. I am taking your challenge to heart. I still have some resistance to some individuals in my past. I am going to try my best to empathize with their position, circumstances, and history. Thank you for the lesson in peace.

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    1. Kozo,
      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      I’m glad you found this helpful. My suggestions fall into the category of easier said than done, practice makes perfect, and I can do all things through Him that strengthens me. At least it does for me. If the payoff is the other person’s change, it could be a long time coming, however, if it’s expanding and growing oneself and working toward mutually beneficial outcome, that may be easier to observe and measure.

      So happy to be part of the Bloggers for Peace project.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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      1. Love how you categorize this practice, Kina. I am not trying to change the other party. I am working on changing myself. I don’t want to have any enemies, even if they consider me an enemy. I agree that practice makes perfect, which is why this is a perfect practice for me at this time.:)

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        1. “I don’t want to have any enemies, even if they consider me an enemy”

          I have always struggled with caring about how out hers see me. Wanting to convince them to see me differently. Being able to reach the point where I let go of my need to control their viewpoint has been, and continues to be, a big area of growth and healing for me.

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    1. bit,
      Thank you for visiting, reading, and commenting. I’m glad to know my words are under consideration.

      I wouldn’t really expect quick answers or to see quick changes from practicing these kinds of changes of thought. It’s not just one action, it is a series of choices, actions and chain reactions in an entrenched system of thought and belief impacting and initiating change and reaction in a different entrenched system. It’s a process, not an event.

      You’re welcome for the ping back – just doing my part connecting with another Blogger for Peace.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  3. Very well written.
    I’ve done what you suggest. Sometimes, opening perspective is very rewarding, leading to a whole new set of options.
    Sometimes, the other person is a jackass.
    Of course, sometimes, it’s me that’s the jackass.
    Ah well.

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    1. El Guapo,
      Way to avoid answering the question, lol.

      Seriously though, thank you for putting in the effort. In these kinds of circumstances, especially if there is a long history of entrenched attitudes, dogged persistence may be required, even if it feels like there is never going to be a payoff. I’ve heard that it takes 90 days of daily practice to change a habit and that it can take twice as long before the perceptions of others shift, possibly longer.

      So, yay for making the effort. Now, keep going. Or not, it’s your choice.

      Be well,
      Kina

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  4. It’s been a long time since I have watched a cartoon but weren’t things like The Justice League filled with morals and lessons? From what you have written, it appears the lessons have gotten a bit more sophisticated.

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    1. Jen,
      You could be right. It could also be that I have a tendency to overthink things and filter everything through the filters of years of counseling, therapy, and conflict resolution. Probably a combination of the two. With kid-centric cable and satellite channels and the specialization of media into different genres, I think many of the current superhero cartoons are geared toward a more adult audience who may be drawn into these programs for the nostalgia then stay for the story. We watch our share of edutainment shows. I can honestly say, I’d rather see a flawed Superman than hear, “I’m the map!” sung repeatedly until my ears bleed. However, Luna now sees Superman as a less than nice guy. Not sure how I feel about that.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      Be well,
      Kina

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  5. Kina, Great challenge. It is so easy for us to begin resisting communications with someone when it seems we can never see their point of view not they can see ours. But I think it can be beneficial if we step outside of our stubborn selves and really attempt to listen and understand their point of view. I believe by setting the example the wall between the two can be lowered, if not all the way at least partially! Great story!

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    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

      I see this dynamic in some close relationships of mine on an almost daily basis. Me being me, means I am able to see and understand both perspectives and see where neither is completely in the wrong or completely in the right. These kinds of conflicts often stem from a deep well of woundedness that just keeps getting deeper and deeper, then covered up under resentment, bitterness, and anger if people are unwilling to let go of their woundedness enough to connect with the woundedness of the other.

      At least that is my perspective.

      Blessings,
      Kina

      Like

      1. Great perspective. The thing we need to remember is things can always be seen differently from someone else’s eyes. We may not agree in how the perceive things but we should respect it and them! Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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