Have you ever watched a movie about superheroes, or read a comic book about superheroes, and wished that you could be one too? As someone who has spent a lifetime admiring fictional superheroes, I’ve finally decided that it’s time to start living the dream. Therefore, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve become a Real Life Superhero!
What’s a Real Life Superhero? There’s a growing community of us, but we haven’t come up with an official definition of the term. Generally speaking, a Real Life Superhero (RLSH) is someone who creates and adopts a special new identity in order to perform a public service. The new identity of a Real Life Superhero is usually inspired by the archetypal superheroes of popular fiction. This identity is a unique creation and usually includes a new name, a new uniform or costume, and a set of goals and methods intended to serve the public good. Forms of service include neighborhood watch patrols, charity work, grassroots activism, and beyond.
For some people who don’t know me very well, this may seem like a silly idea that came out of nowhere. People who know me well, though, probably won’t see this as much of a surprise. When I was in preschool, our teachers asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Other people wanted to be astronauts, firefighters, and so on. I, on the other hand, wanted to be Superman. On some level, I’ve been trying to live that dream ever since.
My first step in this direction happened about ten years ago. After working with the Student Environmental Center for a year or two, I realized that I was experiencing a deep transformation in my basic understanding of who I was, my place in the world, and the nature of the world itself. In honor of this spiritual transformation, I adopted the name Treesong.
For a few years, my entire life centered around ecological and social justice work. Then, I spent a few years focusing primarily on survival and self-healing. Now, as I turn my attention back to community involvement, I’ve decided that becoming a Real Life Superhero is the best way to apply my personal energy and creativity to the causes that are near and dear to my heart.
What does it mean to be a Real Life Superhero? For me, it means that I do what I can to support worthy causes and community service organizations, especially those located right here in Southern Illinois. One of the ways that I already do this is by co-hosting Your Community Spirit with Aur ‘da energy mon’ Beck. We spread the word about community happenings and eco-social news every Friday from 10 am to 10:30 am on WDBX 91.1 FM.
This, however, is only the beginning.
As of this moment, in my capacity as a Real Life Superhero, I’m starting several new efforts to serve our community and the eco-social causes that I support. My hope is that these efforts will provide tangible benefits to community groups and good causes in our area, and that my actions will also inspire other people to become more involved too.
First of all, I’ve decided to create and maintain a listing of local, regional, national, and global causes that I support. This list will start small, but will grow with time based on your input and my research. This list serves several functions, including promoting community groups and projects, gathering all of their contact information in a single location, encouraging networking among local community groups, and offering a To Do List for any fellow community members who are looking for more ways to get involved.
Second, I’ve decided to select three local community groups each quarter of the year for special attention. These “Featured Causes” will be highlighted at the top of the list of Causes on my website. Throughout the quarter, I will make an extra effort to support these causes by volunteering my time, doing online promotion, and donating what little money I have to their capital campaigns. I encourage you to do the same.
Third, effective immediately, I pledge to donate approximately 10% of my income to the Causes listed on my website.
As someone who is deep in debt and has an income level far below the poverty line, this was a very difficult decision. I’m sure that some of my friends will try to dissuade me from this course of action. I’m sure that in the short term, this choice will affect what few remaining luxuries I have in my life. However, my decision is final, and no one will change my mind on this.
I’m so convinced of the importance of community service organizations that I’m willing to give my last penny to ensure their continued existence. I’m also convinced that this tithe will motivate me to find new ways to earn money. The more I earn, the more I can give back to the community. Perhaps most of all, I’m convinced that this will provide me with a good opportunity to encourage others to support these causes. Whenever I make a donation, I will publicize the donation and call on other people to join me in providing this essential financial support to organizations in need.
Finally, in addition to the above efforts, I’m issuing a call to action for anyone else who likes the idea of becoming a Real Life Superhero.
I know that most people who do community service work do so without much fanfare, and some of them do very hard work on a daily basis that far exceeds anything I’ll do as a Real Life Superhero. But I also believe that there’s a place in the community for people who want to run around in homemade costumes and do good deeds in as many creative and exciting and dynamic ways as possible.
If anyone else is up to the challenge, we can form a team of local Real Life Superheroes. We can work together on fundraisers, volunteer efforts, events, and more unconventional tactics like guerrilla theatre and public performance. We can organize media events where we present oversized checks to local community groups or oversized citations to corrupt corporations or institutions. Really, when you’re a Real Life Superhero, the possibilities are endless.
So, there you have it. Real Life Superheroes exist, and I’m one of them. If you have any questions or comments, you know where to find me.