Are superheroes real?

That was the question my 4-year-old grandson asked me this week.
You must understand, we’ve bonded over the Avengers. We go to see all the movies together. Yes, I’m vicariously indulging my own childish obsession with comic book heroes.
So the question, asked in all seriousness, set me back.

Are superheroes real?
How do you answer that question?
In the midst of a socio/political climate that resembles a bad SNL skit; when real-life horror stories are taking place around the world every day; when it looks more and more like we might actually NEED the Avengers and their ilk to rescue us from certain doom; how does one answer a 4-year-old’s honest question: ARE superheroes real?
Bereft of easy answers, I resorted to the power of the definition: What makes a superhero a superhero?
(NOTE, asking this kind of question is how I raised a houseful of anarchists, so before you apply this method, beware.) 
The conclusion?

It’s not the superpowers… it’s the motive. 
It’s not the mutated genes… it’s the intention.
It’s not the fame, or the fortune, or, thank heaven, the outfit… it’s the heart. 

THAT is what I want to impart to my progeny… the motive, the intention, the heart of the superhero.
And what is that?

Mercy. Love. Justice. Honor. Faith. Commitment. Selflessness. 
Those are the characteristics of a superhero. Whether he’s been frozen for a few generations, is a genius with too much money and an anxiety disorder, or if he turns green and smashes everything in sight when provoked. No one said superheroes were perfect.

SO… back to the grandson’s question.
Are superheroes real?
Absolutely. In fact, they’re everywhere. We just need to open our eyes.
I know plenty of superheroes.
They’ve adopted children from another continent.
A lot of them wear uniforms labeled Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines. Or they are deputy sheriffs, police officers, and firefighters. 
They’re standing up against oppression and injustice by defending the weak and broken among us.
They’re going to dangerous places to share the Gospel.
They’re feeding the hungry, tending to the sick, and building houses for the homeless.
They’re devoting their time, money, energy, and talents to change the things that are wrong with our system.
They’re taking care of their loved ones who have dementia or other chronic ailments 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
They’re battling chronic pain and illness every day with a smile and encouragement for the rest of us.
I could go on…
The good news? I can tell my grandson superheroes ARE real.

Who are your superheroes?

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