For reasons only Jar Jar Hater will appreciate truly, this time of year brings me to a specially-reflective time as I remember certain events in recent history. One of those events is rather infamous among my circle of friends, as an off-hand comment gave birth to an entire “mythos” about which comic book character is most like me, or I’m most like, or however that phrasing should work.
So in honor of the anniversary of the moment in time that birthed the original blog, I present it again for the sake of newer readers who may not have had a chance to read it the first time around.
Suffice it to say, the comments section on the original is quite spectacular. I had people lodge complaints with the idea I would intercede to keep bad things from happening, two of whom used the rather-faulty logic that no one should ever get involved in anything because of some New-Agey post-hippie idea that “nothing is bad unless you judge it so,” which is nonsense.
It’s nonsense because there are absolute truths in the world and the best way to test any maxim like that is to take it to its logical extreme. If nothing is bad, then nothing is good, and there is no reason to exist except for self-interest. I will reject that to my dying day, and I’m grateful that plenty before me have also rejected that idea.
There are reasons to intercede when bad things might happen, because there are ideals bigger than we ourselves. To live according to some slippery scale is insane.
Does that mean we should operate without mercy? Of course not. If I was pitching that idea, the blog would’ve been titled “I Am Judge Dredd,” which is a whole different thing.
Without further ado, I present an anniversary posting of I Am Batman.
I Am Batman
This is a blog inspired by yet another conversation I had with fellow Convocation member Jar Jar Hater (an endless fount of countervailance). Without going into details, because those are usually just starting points for discussions that leave people dumbfounded by my opinions (not always in a good way), let’s just say that the eventual statement was made, “I’m Batman.”
Before you run with that one and think that I have some sort of a hero complex (I don’t, it’s a martyr complex) I was speaking metaphorically. I don’t actually put on a costume and beat up criminals. (I turn on the porch light and glower at the young’uns what been wakin’ up the kids.)
But there is a reason I identify with the character so strongly.
Like Batman, I view people as flawed creatures who still make the right choices when they take the time to think about them. When they rush to decide, or they use their emotions and immediate desires as the basis of their decisions, they screw up.
Sometimes, you need to remind them to stop, breathe and think.
So without going into specifics, Jar Jar Hater and I were walking and talking among a loose group of people. Inspired by the surrounding group, we discussed a hypothetical situation that could occur, and in light of that hypothetical I commented that if necessary I’d tackle someone at the knees to stop such a hypothetical from becoming a practical example.
Jar Jar Hater, and another member of the conversation, asked why I’d feel compelled to do that.
It was at that point that I said, with just a hint of ironic self–deprecation, “I’m Batman.”
What That Means
I was asked to clarify. What I laid out at the time, and what I lay out here is: Batman is about prevention.
The response was, as seems to be the increasing case in our relativistic culture, to ask what “business” it would be of me to stop certain things from happening.
I suppose I don’t have a terrific answer for that. Too many of us, myself included, have become too adept at semantics to argue coherently on the subject of self–determination. After all, I suppose it depends on what your definition of the word ‘is’ is.
But the simple fact is, if people are going to “do something bad” then my momentary intrusion on things won’t stop a good decision, or put an end to something people are determined to do, will it?
I ask this sincerely: What’s so wrong about seeing a situation where some thought might make things better, and trying to make people reconsider things for a moment?
Don’t We All Have Moments?
Don’t we all have moments where we look back and think, “If only someone had made me stop and think that one through?”
I cannot possibly be the only one.
I suppose I look out into people’s actions and think about what a positive it can be when someone – anyone – steps up and says, “you need some help with this?” Isn’t that one of the reasons why they ask, during marriage ceremonies, if anyone has something to say that might impact the life–altering decision they’re about to undertake?
I know we view it as a formality now. Maybe that’s a symptom of the problem. Maybe someone should tackle the groom at the knees, hit him in the head and shout, “Dude, really? What the Hell?”
Start with Friendship, Work Backward
We’re all asleep at the wheel with this, and thus we keep sliding toward a more libertine environment. And even speaking as someone who’s a “moderate libertarian“®™, that’s not a good thing.
To tie it in with a discussion I had with Agent Bun a very long time ago, when a friend of hers was making some bad choices, I pontificated that the whole point of a friendship is to stand in the breach and be that voice of reason that simply asks, “Are you sure you want to do this?” You don’t stop being their friend if they make a bad choice, but at least you gave them a reason to stop and think.
So again, it’s not trying to live their life for them. Hawk can tell you without hesitation that one of the cornerstones of our friendship all these years is the simple fact that we can gently call bulls*** on each other. More than he, I’ve pushed on and made some terrible decisions – but he was always sure to say under his breath, “You sure about this?”
I Have to Go There
And to tie it in to Star Wars (because I can) this is a caveat for any argument that Qui–Gon would have made Anakin a better Jedi (more to come on that soon enough).
One of Qui–Gon’s key points of advice was, “feel, don’t think.” What the Hell kind of advice is that outside of a Podrace?
For an even more delicious irony, Obi–Wan specifically tells Anakin to think and stop relying on emotion to make his decisions in Episode III. So in that sense, he’s being a good friend.
After all, if I listened solely to my feelings on things, I’d likely have beaten someone to death by this point in my life.
That’s not an exaggeration.
To borrow some wisdom from Spock, logic is the beginning of wisdom; you may not make a purely logical choice (emotion, intuition and logic are the big three important factors) but make sure you know you’re making a thoughtful choice.
And to be thoughtful, you need logic.
And in the end, isn’t Batman a physical manifestation of that logic?
Not really. But it’s part of what he is.
He’s the balance of those big three: emotion, intuition and logic. And the more I think about it, that makes Batman even more super awesome because emotion, intuition and logic are expressed in Bones, Kirk and Spock and they’re super awesome just on their own.
Batman is more than just a crime fighter, and his motivation is more than just revenge.
Batman is about prevention. He is about holding the line, taking the shots and showing that we can be better than we are; though flawed himself, he never stops trying to be better. Discipline and dedication shape his world, and he learns from each mistake to become better.
And he shares that example with people as best he can. Not in a prideful way, but because he knows that it’s our responsbility to be better. It’s our responsibility to get stronger and find the way to the right choices, and to help others be better when they feel they might falter.
And where he’s divergent with Superman is that he’s about showing each individual how to be better. Instead of a collective reliance on someone else, if you show the example to enough people, eventually it’s going to stick with someone and from there, it can grow and spread from person to person and get better.
So yeah, I’m Batman. Kind of.