The Citizen Superhero Project uses the superhero archetype as a vehicle for teaching and inspiring active and positive citizenship. It is the intent of CS to help individuals to embrace their powerful roles as citizens and to foster an understanding and appreciation of what their responsibilities are to their local and global communities.
The following is an account that my amazing wife, Bonnie, shared with me about a recent experience. Such a Citizen Superhero moment! Enjoy.
Here's to saving the day...everyday!
- Citizen Superhero
"Last night as I was walking into Safeway, I saw a homeless man sitting in a wheel chair, shaking his change cup at the entrance. I encounter so many homeless people in San Francisco, many of them severely mentally ill, and I often pretend I don’t see them because I don’t want to be hassled for money. I truly want to help and don’t want to become desensitized to their struggle, I tell myself, but what can I really do?
When I glanced over at this man last night, took in the look on his tired face and the image of the leg he would never again be able to use, I felt drawn to speak to him. I asked him if I could buy him some food, an invitation he accepted with a smile of gratitude that looked more like shock, and then, relief.
As I brought out the sandwich and leaned down to help him unwrap it, he looked at me deeply for a moment. “Thank you for the food and the conversation,” he said, “and for sharing the light of God through your eyes.” He went on to describe all the people he’d seen walk by that day, and how they all have that light somewhere inside, but how few of them stop to share it with others.
Our angels and teachers are everywhere, and last night mine showed up in the form of a homeless, wheelchair-bound man named Antonio. A four dollar sandwich shared with this stranger bought me a priceless reminder of the power of loving human connection, and how different all of our lives might be if we consciously chose to invite it in more often. More sincere smiles while truly meeting the gaze of a stranger, more sitting on our front porches getting to know our neighbors, more openness and kindness in our daily interactions, more thoughtful gestures. Everyone you know or meet is working through some challenge you usually know nothing about, and a little more acceptance and connection can go a long, long way.
Yes, there are complex problems in the world, like homelessness, and yes, there are equally complex solutions. But there are simple answers too, that start within. We all have limitless light and the same humble opportunity to create a better world by generously giving away something that’s free and in endless supply: love and more love and love. Let’s share it more often."
"This is all it takes, really. Two hands clasped in fellowship, pledging to build something better." - PROFESSOR X
CS CHALLENGE: Recently, I took it upon myself to start cleaning out these two storm drains in my community (where I live, there happens to be some kind of unwritten weekly tradition where my neighbors and passers-through like to put all of their trash in the nearest storm drain. Ugh.) When it would rain, the storm drains would be too clogged to do what they were supposed to do. After multiple flooding in the streets, I kind of had enough. So, I went out one day to get down and dirty and collect the garbage from the drains. In the back of my mind, I was a bit worried about how I would be perceived if one of my neighbors saw me. And just as I was elbow-deep in the storm drain and had nearly filled my second bag of trash, I heard a voice from behind me, "Hey, what are you doing?!" Immediately, I got to my knees and turned around. Across the street, staring in my direction was one of my neighbors. We had never been very friendly before and I was under the impression that he didn't take too kindly to having me in the neighborhood. "Hey," I answered back somewhat timidly. "Hey, why are you doing that?" he said again. "Uh, the drains were flooding because of all the trash," I said a bit nervously. "Oh," he reacted, "I didn't realize that was what was causing the flooding. I thought we just had old drains." Then, as I knelt there, unsure of what would happen next, my neighbor reached down and picked up a plastic bottle laying nearby in the gutter. He walked over to me and put the bottle in one of my trash bags and extended a big open hand. "Hey, thanks. I'm Big Mike, by the way." This is all it takes, really... Citizen Superhero