Justice League Unlimited

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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