Craig and Marc Kielburger founded Free The Children and Me to We. Their biweekly Brain Storm column taps experts and readers for solutions to social issues.
We are among the millions of Superman fans anticipating this week’s release of Man of Steel. There is timeless appeal to the idea of heroes using their superpowers to save the world, and we’ve asked many of our personal heroes what world-saving powers they would want.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu would eradicate poverty, TV talk-show legend Larry King would do away with nuclear weapons, and singer Nelly Furtado would inspire empathy by giving every person a glimpse of how their fellow global citizens live on the other side of the world.
But it was the response of Canadian Dr. James Orbinski, who in 1999 accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Médecins Sans Frontières, that gave us the most hope. “We all have superpowers,” he told us. “And the one thing that I would change over and over and over again is my own forgetfulness that I am actually living and part of the world and able to affect the world.”
He’s right – our world has its own real-life superheroes, from Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa to Terry Fox and Rick Hansen. But to tackle the world’s ills, more of us must step up. We may not have X-ray vision or be able to leap buildings in a single bound, but we each have skills and talents that can make a difference.
This week’s question: How can each of us discover and make the best use of our superpowers to make our communities and world a better place?
Sheila Gunther, chair of the foreign language department at Long Island University
“A common theme in superhero lore is taking heroic action without seeking recognition or reward. We can each emulate that quality by working as volunteers or using our skills selflessly to benefit society.”
Dain Heer, author of Being You, Changing the World
“We tend to judge those very things that are great about us as though they are the worst things about us. Einstein, as a child, was known for incessant daydreaming – was he a daydreamer, or was he always exploring other realities and possibilities in his head? Rethink what you see as wrong about you into what is strong about you.”
Danny Livingston, recent recipient of a Carnegie Medal for heroism for rescuing a stranger from a burning car near Courtenay, B.C., in 2010
“Realistically I just acted before thinking too much, and not thinking is what saved his life because it was a really close call. I’d say you should imagine having yourself or your family in that situation, and be safe about it but when you know it’s the right thing to do, just go for it.”
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