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The Symbol



Not too long ago I was racing all over Snohomish County trying to handle some legal business. I wore the new Man of Steel shirt that had been giving to me during the film's premiere weekend. As I made my way around the county, something odd happened.

It's happened before but for some reason, this was the first time I'd ever paid attention. People would look at my shirt, then me, and smile. When I was in court the security spent just as much time chatting me up about the movie as they did scanning my things. I was greeted and treated with a more friendly demeanor than one usually gets when dealing with the legal system. I was even given advice when typically none would be dispensed.

I was rocketing about town trying to figure out why things seemed to be going my way. Typically, I'm pretty friendly but that day I was stressed and hurried. What made today different?

I didn't understand until after the stress had passed and I was given a moment in the sun to think.

It's the symbol.

It's happened so many times I've lost track of it, but virtually every single time I wear a Superman shirt I'm treated the same way. Smiles, small jokes, happy banter. On the opposite side of the equation, I remembered the story of someone who'd been arrested and then beaten down in jail because he had been accused of beating his wife. He'd had the Superman symbol tattooed onto his body. How dare you, the story went, how dare you wear that and beat your wife.

And like a bolt of lightning, the day made sense. It's the symbol!
And it's not that the symbol is for Superman, either. It's for what Superman stands for, and why he's loved the world over. It's why if you wear that symbol, you're expected to carry yourself a certain way and if you don't, at the least, you're going to get clowned and at the worst, you're going to get the living daylights beaten out of you.

The power to set the world on fire. The courage not too.

The symbol, that big "S" that's gone through so many incarnations over the years, still carries the same meaning.

Hope.
Peace.
Truth.
Justice.

And I realize why Superman is who he is, why he's so revered.
It's not about the powers; it's about the choices.
It's not that he can obliterate cities with his eyes or crack the planet in half; it's that he doesn't.

It's surrendering your seat for those unable to stand, or holding the door open for a slew of people even when they don't acknowledge the effort, and then doing it again when the opportunity presents itself. It's doing the right thing, even if you're ridiculed and ostracized for it.

And if you wear that symbol, you should stand for its meaning.

This has been (yet another) extremely stressful time in my life, and recently I was awarded far more than I ever asked for. I genuinely believe that the only reason why I have gotten the millions of breaks (other than my faith in God) I have over the years is because I do my best not to deviate from what that symbol stands for.

There was a time, recently, when I could've cracked someone's world in half with a word. I chose not too. it wouldn't have been right.

We all have the capacity to obliterate one another. We have a greater capacity to love one another.

I believe that's what the symbol stands for.

What do you believe?

Thanks for reading.


The Superman image above was drawn by James Neal, one of the hardest working indie authors and artists on the planet. He was kind enough to let me use his work. You should check him out over at Roosterwords. While you're at it, please motivate him to get his epic fantasy "Of Blood and Blade" onto store shelves. I've run out of ways to motivate him. :-)

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