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Superman's sacrifice


When I was growing up in the early 80s, Superman, Batman, and Ironman dominated my mind. They had everything I didn't: muscles and the confidence to wear underwear outside their pants in public.

One of the interesting aspects of superheroes is how they tend to subordinate themselves to the average person. They sacrifice themselves for the good of humanity. This runs counter to most of the real world. If a nation is a superpower, it tends to invade, influence, and ensure its self-interests are protected. The interests of others aren't as important and certainly not more important.

The greatest contrast between power and sacrifice is Superman. With his power, Superman could have made himself ruler of the world. Nope. Just because he could doesn't mean he did. He instead decides to protect the world from tyranny and save those who are weaker or needed immediate help.

Likewise, as strategic as Sun Tzu was, I have noted in our Art of War book that Sun Tzu was first and foremost a moral leader. Just because he could destroy his enemies doesn't mean he did.

Could both Superman and Sun Tzu be wrong? Highly unlikely.

Humans are probably one of the very few organisms in the animal kingdom that can think beyond their self-interests. Our advantage isn't so much our muscles but our minds. Greek philosopher Epictetus said a donkey can kick harder than any man, but that doesn't mean a man should go around saying he's superior because he can kick as hard as a donkey. What makes a human being great is his or her intellect, and so it makes sense that intelligence is the standard and yardstick to measure a person.

There is no shame in losing if a thinking person chooses to lose, if "winning" means the proliferation of harm, cruelty, and suffering to others. Wisdom and morality are one and the same. Epictetus also said nature has given us all a door to exit if there is too much smoke. For those who stay and "win" can breath in their own smoke and then they too will have to exit soon enough.

Therefore, the real winners are those who decide their own destiny regardless of rewards or punishments. These winners serve as superior examples -- super people -- for others to be able to compare and choose the path they want to take. To me, I can't imagine anyone who can think would accept anything less than being super themselves.

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