In the aftermath of Charlottesville, I'm not going to lie.... I gave in to despair. I curled up inside of hit hoping to get warm again. And while I was there I realized something: there are no heroes coming to save us. You might think that's something we all learn as children--in fact that might be the exact moment childhood ends--but this was a visceral reminder of that. A booster shot of cold practicality.
But here we are... in a world getting more terrifying by the second, where rules of what went before and what could "never happen" have been tossed out of some window. We're here in this world that seems to come straight from a comic book or movie and yet there are no red capes to be seen in the sky. No shields or S.H.I.E.L.D to protect the citizenry.
And it's not fair, is it?
The Voldemorts and Red Skulls we read about have real-life counterparts. The Empire is here. There are Deatheaters walking the streets in broad daylight without any compunction or fear. Hydra has revealed itself. It feels like Arkham has opened its gates and we're just trying to stem the tide of rogues leaving their gallery and jumping into the real world.
But Batman's not here. Captain America, Thor, The Doctor, Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, General Leia, Miss Marvel, the Mockingjay, Indiana Jones... our heroes aren't coming. The villains are here and sneering. And as much as I hate divisiveness, and abhor the "us vs them" mentality, I cannot help but embrace it when it comes to the scourge of white nationalism that has been emboldened by the current administration and its actions.
There is a definite line. One side is full of loud masses waving swastika flags and carrying torches. They are ready for battle with shields and guns. They see themselves as superior. They see themselves as truly human, and all others who don't match them are subhuman. These are people who embrace the names, symbols and beliefs of Nazis and the KKK. These are people allying themselves with everything we've held to be abhorrent and villainous.
And we must fight these ideas as we always have. Dehumanizing others, calling for cleansing through murder....we remember the atrocities committed in the 1940s. We remember the 1960s and the Civil Rights movement. We remember. And we cannot allow violence or these ideas to take root and spread. If there is an enemy it is the idea that all humans are not created equal. When you dehumanize someone, it is easier to do violence on them.
This fight is not about politics and it never has been, though there is definite mingling as our politicians and world leaders take the sides of those who would see entire swaths of people removed from the world on the basis of religion, race, sexuality, or even the health of ones own body. No, this fight is about humanity.
That other side? They come from a place of fear. Fear of being replaced. Fear of losing relevance. Fear of being on equal footing with those that have been oppressed. Fear of losing an edge. Fear of being redundant. Ultimately, they are afraid.
That doesn't make them weak. Fear motivates mothers to lift cars off of their children just as often as fear paralyzes. This fear has been stoked to anger, and that anger has been encouraged. Those in power have been using that fear to manipulate and push.
We've seen the same tactics in history, movies and comics.
And yet, here we are. No Captain America to punch our modern-day Red Skull.
I think what makes that realization truly sting is the helplessness and powerlessness it evokes. In the movies, the heroes always know what to do. They've been trained by Professor X, Nick Fury or Dumbledore. They have tools and gadgets to use that we don't. They have whole teams full of supers with powers and skillsets beyond what we typically have use for. And they have the time. It's their job to have the black-and-white thinking, the training and go fight bad guys. It's not always without grey area, sure, but at the end of the day Hydra bad, Hulk smash.
But guess what, guys... we don't have the luxury of despair.
There is no superhero born or bred for this coming our way. No chosen one. There is only us.
And we are mighty.
This is the time to rise up. If you've ever wondered what you would have done in 1944 Berlin. If you've ever wondered who you would've been during the 1960s protests. If you ever wondered what you would have done during the Battle of Hogwarts, the Death Star run, or the riots in District 8.... now is your time to find out.
We cannot be silent.
We cannot be passive.
We must act. We must rise up and fight this tide of violence.
We are the heroes. We are the only ones who are going to stop hatred and bigotry. We are the ones who will take a stand for our fellow humans, who will champion science and fact, who will seek justice and fact.
Do what you can when you can. Go to protests and be a peaceful presence. Stand up against casual bigotry when you hear comments or witness injustice. Use your voice and your privilege to get the message out. Support those on the front lines of this fight by knitting hats, making signs, being a refuge.... do whatever it is that you can, but please do something.
We cannot afford to be complacent. The silence of good people will be our downfall.
We are here. Right now. We don't have to wait for the Avengers.