This I Believe

John - Strongsville, Ohio
Entered on May 27, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: death, hope

I believe in Superheroes. The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, Justice League, Superman; I believe in them all. I hold out eternal hope that, one fateful day, I will be involved in a freak chemical accident, or be visited by a supernatural or otherworldly creature, through which I will gain abilities superior to those of average humans (preferably an accelerated healing factor like Wolverine has, which, after hours of careful deliberation, I have determined to be the coolest super power ever).

What I have written so far is by no means tongue in cheek or an exaggeration of my views. I honestly and truly believe that events that gave the Hulk, Wolverine, Spider-Man and other superheroes their powers can and do happen.

The comment I almost certainly receive when I tell people what I believe is “That is so childish.” To that I can only answer, it’s true, it is childish. I am a childish person and I hope to be a childish person forever. However, there is a reason behind my childish nature. I have experienced an event similar to the defining moment in any superheroes’ life, not the moment he receives his powers, but rather the moment when he understands what he must do with them.

In the early morning hours of February 12th, 2006, my next door neighbor was stabbed and thrown off the top floor of a nine story parking garage in downtown Cleveland. He died several hours later at an area hospital. He was nineteen years old.

This was a kid I had grown up with. We always played Monopoly when it was cold or raining. He was a huge Green Bay Packers fan so every game he would trade whatever he had so that he could get “Packer Corner” (where the green and yellow (Packers’ colors) properties met). And we had huge baseball games in the summertime. It didn’t matter what grade you were in, kids from 1st grade up to 10th grade would play. Each game we had at least twenty kids. We would use wooden bats just like the big leaguers and the games would last for five hours in the big green behind our houses.

When he was killed, it was as if my childhood had died with him. For about a week following his death, I shut down. I was shocked and appalled by the evil of the situation invading my life. Every time I heard someone say in jest “I’m going to kill you!” I damn near broke down and cried. It really hit home.

At his funeral the organist played a hymn entitled “Let There Be Peace On Earth and Let it Begin With Me.” As soon as the music hit my ears, I knew what I had to do; make sure that people, any people, good or bad, would never have to go through what my neighbor and his family had to go through ever again. I had to spread peace.

For months, I had no idea how to go about doing this. Could I really stop murders from happening? No, I decided., not unless those superpowers would hurry up and find me. Could I lift people out of poverty so they would have no need to commit crimes? No, not everyone. I sat and sat for months and didn’t know what to do. All the evil and pain that I had seen weighed on me as if I was submerged in a pool of lead water.

Then, one boring and lonesome summer night, months after my neighbors death, I stumbled upon a video tape my friends and I had made months before, before my neighbor died. It was just my buddies and I screwing around and having fun. I realized that since my neighbor had died, I had done none of those things. A sense of the existence of good in the world re-awakened in me like a ten year old kid on Christmas morning.

Once I had seen the tape I had my answer to how I would combat evil. I would not use super strength or batterrangs, but rather would love my life, inner peace leads to outer peace, if for no other reason than to spite those forces of evil at work in the world. I would fight evil by believing in magic, and John Henry and Pecos Bill, and Pokemon cards, and Spongebob, and hour long games of tag with no base, and naps in the hammock, and pretending to be pirates, and Santa Claus, and Monopoly, and baseball games in the big green, and superheroes, and never forgetting that despite believing in all the evil in the world, I believe that there’s a hell of a lot of good around, too. And there will always be heroes, with or without superpowers, to defend that good.