I grew up with the Super Friends as a staple of the much anticipated Saturday morning cartoons. I had Wonder Woman Underoos and would spin around my living room, becoming her, full of superpower! The Lone Ranger was fading out of prominence in my childhood, but the concept was clear. Similar to David Banner, he drifted from place to place, fighting the bad guys and moving on from towns that would otherwise like to embrace him and enfold him into their communities. History lessons and fictional novels introduced more heroes, like William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, Jr., Martin Luther, William Wallace, and Pele! (all types of heroes!)
I would fight the bad guys, fight injustice, fight inequality, fight racism, fight poverty, fight snobs, fight the arrogant and elitist. But I'd also be reminding them of their better selves, "the better angels of their nature," because on top of the belief that I could effectively battle the powers of darkness, I also believed that darkness and light, right and wrong, were not only universally agreed upon but that any "bad guy" was really a softy underneath who just needed to be loved and given the reminder to "do the right thing."
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. John 3:19-20
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
So here are a few of the facts I have since learned about "the bad guys": 1. We are all the bad guys, from birth, desiring to be our own gods and determine for ourselves what is right and wrong as long as it benefits us. 2. We don't want to be in the light, not just for fear of being exposed, as if we agreed that what we were doing was "wrong", but because we want to be left alone to do it our own way and not be told what to do. 3. There is no rational conversation that draws the "bad guy" back to the better angels of his nature, because that nature Is naturally self-serving and self-seeking and self-protecting above all else. Unless God calls me out from behind the olive tree, there I will hide, clothing myself in silly leaves, thinking I've got it as good as it gets.
The other bad news for my underroos wearing little self-proclaimed superhero is that in God's great story, there is only one hero, and as fierce and ferocious as I can be, I cannot "save the day." The darkness in the world isn't the Republicans or the Democrats, Putin or S. Korea or immigrants or rednecks or the Coronavirus or to whomever we apply the despised category of "those people."
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-12
But here is the good news! While I can't battle all of the divisiveness, cruelty, injustice, supremacy, elitism at the cost of the majority of equally valuable human lives, inequities, and other broken realities of this world, God is fighting them, has fought for righteousness, and has already won. Its not on me to be the hero and darkness will not reign in chaos and oppression. The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but our Redeemer lives and because He is the hero, I don't have to be.