We admire superheroes for their unwavering belief in the power of compassion and the inherent goodness of humanity. We look up to them, idolize them, and champion them as role models for youth to emulate and aspire to. In the face of adversity, superheroes never give up, they never give in, and they never compromise their ideals. Superheroes have taught us that “with great power comes great responsibility” among many other valuable lessons for treating each other with kindness. But have we actually learned anything from them?
We need to see the connection between villains using their power to harm humans, and humans using our power to harm animals. The following are eight similarities between animal rights activists and superheroes and how you can help save the world by adopting a vegan lifestyle and becoming an animal rights activist.
1. Superheroes use their power for good
“With great power comes great responsibility.” ~ Voltaire (and later, Uncle Ben from Spiderman)
The most basic difference between superheroes and villains is that superheroes use their power for good, while villains use their power for evil. Superheroes believe in truth, justice and compassion while villains believe in chaos, violence and greed. Though certain villains may believe they are fighting for truth and justice, their version of justice and their means of obtaining it are twisted and immoral.
Superheroes believe in standing up for the underdog and use their power to speak on behalf of those without power. Unlike villains, they don’t view those without power as inferior beings and they don’t use their power as a reason to inflict pain to others just because they can’t fight back.
While a villain sees people without powers as a massive herd to dominate and rule over, a superhero sees people without powers as individuals to protect and care for.
Animal rights activists remove themselves from all avoidable acts of cruelty done to other sentient creatures on their behalf. When they learn of injustices to animals, they empathize, inform others and fight for justice. Animal rights activists are compassionate to all sentient life forms because they believe that treating others with respect is simply the right thing to do.
“I decided early that I would never take a life. Right around the time I decided that I wanted to live. It wasn’t an arbitrary decision and it was more than moral. It’s about identity. As long as you can choose that, choose who you are in the world… you can choose to call yourself sane.” ~ Batman
2. Superheroes dare to dream
“I wouldn’t have it any other way. Dreams save us. Dreams lift us up and transform us. And on my soul I swear… until my dream of a world where dignity, honor and justice becomes the reality we all share… I’ll never stop fighting. Ever.” ~ Superman
Superheroes aren’t afraid to dream of a better world. While others are content to accept things as they are, superheroes dream of something better. Villains dream as well, but they don’t dream of a better world the way superheroes do. Villains’ twisted dreams of a better world are ones in which they are the ruler of a slave race (the human race) or even suicidal dreams of total annihilation of the universe and apocalyptic destruction causing the death of all life, including even themselves.
Superheroes are idealists and dreamers, but they are not delusional. They understand perfectly well the hard work, the sleepless nights, and the shed tears it will take to make their dream a reality. But they understand that some of the biggest ethical leaps forward society has taken throughout history at first didn’t seem possible. They all started with that one person who thought “but what if it is?”
3. Superheroes lead by example
“It’s not about where you were born. Or what powers you have. Or what you wear on your chest. It’s about what you do… It’s about action.” ~ Superman
Superheroes practice what they preach. They understand that actions speak louder than words. They don’t pay lip service to the worlds problems – they do something about it.
Animal rights activists have many ways to lead by example ranging from vegan outreach on the street and educating others about animal rights, to shooting undercover video exposing the cruelty in animal industries and direct action liberation.
Both superheroes and animal rights activists reject oppression and cruelty and both embrace lifestyles in the service of others. Living a vegan lifestyle is simply putting the philosophy of compassion into action.
4. Superheroes never give up
“People think it’s an obsession. A compulsion. As if there were an irresistible impulse to act. It’s never been like that. I chose this life. I know what I’m doing. And on any given day, I could stop doing it. Today, however, isn’t that day. And tomorrow won’t be either.” ~ Batman
Superheroes and animal rights activists are tenacious because:
- Lives depend on their success
- They are fighting for something bigger than themselves
- Their mindset is “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
5. Superheroes put others before themselves
We live in a society that values the individual over the group; a society that worships the rich and famous; a society that encourages us to look out for #1. We live in a “me first” society. If we want something, we feel entitled to it and we will claw our way to the top and step on as many people as we have to in order to get it. Our entire lives are one giant pointless competition for who has more than who.
Giant corporations pulling the strings of our politicians have brainwashed us from an early age to be thoughtless consumers in a futile competition with the rest of the world for who can consume the most. We are told not to worry about the future and not to learn from the past, but to focus only on our present fleeting satisfaction, as we gorge ourselves on excess.
We are adult toddlers, wandering through life with eyes closed and mouths and arms open screaming “give me!”, “mine!”, and “I want it now!”. Toddlers are easier to control than adults. You can mold a toddler’s mind so they will want what you want them to want, believe what you want them to believe and do what you want them to do. The amazing thing is they will never question whether you are right or wrong, but will accept everything you have to say simply because you are an adult and they aren’t grown up enough to realize they have a choice.
“Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He’s weak. He’s unsure of himself. He’s a coward. Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race.” ~ Bill (Kill Bill: Volume 2)
Superheroes do not believe that in order for one person to succeed that others must fail. They recognize the power of teamwork and camaraderie and use it to their advantage to become stronger than their foes.
Animal rights activists share this philosophy of brother and sisterhood; that we are all one family who should work together toward a better tomorrow; that we will reach the finish line faster holding hands than trying to trip each other up.
Animal rights activists understand that an animals’ life is more important than the momentary and fleeting palatable pleasure of their flesh. They recognize the inherent value in all sentient life and do not value their own temporary gustatory cravings for death over an animal’s intrinsic craving for life.
6. Superheroes stand up for what’s right, even if they must stand alone
“Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world: ‘No, you move.’” ~ Captain America
What is it called to do the right thing when no one else will? Courage. And what is the word for doing the right thing even when the world tells you not to? Integrity. Superheroes and animal rights activists possess both of these valuable heroic attributes. When you combine courage with integrity you are presented with a force that is unstoppable: the courage of your convictions.
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Superheroes and animal rights activists use the courage of their convictions to fight against oppression and injustice. If they see someone doing wrong they don’t wait around for someone to stop it, they realize that they are that someone and take charge. They understand that allowing injustice to continue by maintaining silence or neutrality only works against those who are oppressed.
But having the courage of your convictions comes with a price. It is isolating being ahead of your time. It is lonely feeling like you are the only one who cares. But day after day, both superheroes and animal rights activists get up and do it again because they know in their hearts it’s simply the right and just thing to do.
“If anyone knows what it’s like to be on the outside, I do. Sometimes I feel like I’m out there fighting all alone. Sometimes I feel like giving up. But, then I remember that what I stand for is more important than anything else.” ~ Superman
7. Superheroes are not flawless
Troubled pasts, personality traits and weaknesses help to shape superheroes and villains into what they are. But while superheroes overcome these obstacles and use them so others will never have to experience such hardship, villains wallow in their self-pity and use them so other’s will feel the pain they do.
Both superheroes and villains do not usually have happy childhoods. Personal histories play a major role in shaping the way a superhero fights for what they believe. But while villains use their troubled past as an excuse to do wrong, superheroes use their troubled past as a reason to make things right. We can’t control things that happened to us in our past but we can control what we choose to learn from them.
The real world is not polarized into things which are purely “good” and purely “evil” and the same is true of superheroes and villains. Both vegans and non-vegans can have hero-like and villainous personality traits without being entirely good or evil. No one single person, real or fictional, can be construed into a black or white oversimplification of 100% good or 100% evil. Even Charles Manson had some charming, endearing qualities about him. Though Gandhi did great things, he was not perfect. But while people themselves are not simply good or evil, their actions can be.
Superheroes may have weaknesses, but they never use those flaws as a crutch to excuse themselves from doing what is right. Convenience, social pressure, and cravings are just a few of the obstacles animal rights activists must overcome on their quest to eliminate their involvement with villainous actions. Like superheroes, animal rights activists do not allow these weaknesses to become more important than their moral and ethical obligations to respect, cherish and protect all sentient life. Both superheroes and animal rights activists don’t see weaknesses as flaws or roadblocks, but as areas of opportunity to improve and grow.
8. Superheroes inspire those around them
“If the prospect of living in a world where trying to respect the basic rights of those around you–and valuing each other simply because we exist–are such daunting, impossible tasks that only a super-hero born of royalty can address them…then what sort of world are we left with? And what sort of world do you want to live in?” ~ Wonder Woman
Finally, both superheroes and animal rights activists inspire those around them to do better — to be better. Not only do they believe in a better world, but they also believe in a better you. They believe that deep down there is a glimmer of hope within each person to be kind, compassionate and loving to one another. They believe in the innate power of goodness within you even when you don’t.
Despite their flaws and weaknesses, superheroes and animal rights activists tenaciously work toward their dream of a better tomorrow by using the courage of their convictions to put others before themselves, lead by example and use their power for the good of the planet and it’s inhabitants, not their destruction.
“The superhero matters as a protest, he is a cry that a single individual still matters — can still shift the world on its axis.” ~ Steven Lloyd Wilson
. . .
In conclusion, superheroes represent what we as humans wish we could be. They are a model for how we should treat others. They stand as an example for how we should live our lives every day.
You don’t need super powers to be a hero in our world — all you need to do is believe in yourself. Your life breaks down into a series of choices. You have the power to choose compassion over cruelty at every meal and on every shopping trip. You have the power to change the world by getting involved in animal rights activism and advocating on behalf of animals rather than being silent and allowing injustice to continue. Please choose to use that power for good.
In the eyes of animals, are you a superhero or a villain?
“I can see this, I suppose you could call it, aura of colors that words can’t describe around living things. And when something dies the aura fades leaving something that’s not easy to look at. It appears empty in a way that makes you feel empty too.” ~ Superman