The Heroes we Need

You know the scene in the Dark Knight, where the Joker has rigged up two boats with explosives and gave the people on each the detonator for the other boat? One boat was filled with convicts, the other with civilians. They are given an ultimatum: blow up the other boat, or in 30 minutes the Joker will blow up both.

In the movie, the people on the boats manage to resist blowing each other up  while Batman and  the Gotham PD take out the Joker, and prove that there is still good in the people of Gotham, or something like that.

But what if things had gone the other way? What if, 30 seconds after they were offered this ultimatum, one of the boats had blown the other sky high? So much for goodness at the heart of Gotham.

This is probably the more realistic scenario. As people, we often have opportunities to rise to the occasion and do the good thing, but we have a less-than-sterling track record of doing so.

The question is, if this happens, does the Batman hang up his cloak? Does he decide that Gotham isn’t worth saving?

I’d like to imagine that he doesn’t.

There’s something powerful about a love that can see a person, a city, or a country, with all of its faults laid bare, and still love it and fight for it. This love seems to me to be more admirable than love that idealizes or glosses over flaws. It’s easy to fight for something when you’ve convinced yourself it’s perfect. It’s harder, and therefore much more remarkable, when you haven’t.

So here we are, with the election of Donald Trump as the leader of the United States. I suppose you could say our faults have been laid bare. And yet, I still love my country. Let’s hunker down and get to work; America will need champions in the coming years.

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