Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest superhero of them all?

Smithsonian.com published The Psychology Behind Superhero Origin Stories by Robin Rosenberg.

Rosenberg says, “As a clinical psychologist who has written books about the psychology of superheroes, I think origin stories show us not how to become super but how to be heroes, choosing altruism over the pursuit of wealth and power.”

Rosenberg says, “I’ve found that superheroes undergo three types of life-altering experiences that we can relate to.”

1. trauma

2. a life altering force is destiny

3. sheer chance

“At their best,” Rosenberg says, “superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose.”

Reading Rosenberg’s piece in Smithsonian after watching “To Whom it May Concern, Ka Shen’s Journey” the previous night helped me understand his explanation. Ke Shen’s Journey was a documentary on the life of Nancy Kwan.

You may remember Kwan in “The World of Suzie Wong” (1960), or “Flower Drum Song” (1961). And in 1961, she won a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer in film.

In fact, Kwan’s father was a hero. During World War II, he was a spy for the British and when the Japanese discovered what he was doing, he took his two, infant children and fled Hong Kong disguised as a Chinese peasant. Another Chinese spy working for the British in Hong Kong wasn’t so fortunate. He was caught and beheaded by the Japanese.

For Kwon, her life altering experience was the loss of her only child, a son from her first marriage. Bernie died at age 33 in 1996. He contracted AIDS from his girlfriend whom Kwan had cautioned him to avoid.

Bernie had unprotected sex with the girl he loved. He didn’t use a condom. The girlfriend died of AIDS first and Bernie stayed by her side and cared for her to the end. Eventually, when the virus threatened his life, he moved home so his mother and stepfather could care for him, and they watched the son they both loved die slowly over a period of three years as he wasted away.

Today, almost age 75, Nancy Kwan actively supports the study of AIDS and the promotion of AIDS awareness.

I think Rosenberg is right, because I’m convinced that what he explains is one reason why I joined the U.S. Marines and later became a classroom teacher in a barrio high school populated by violent street gangs. I made a choice. We all make choices, but why do we make such choices?

For me it wasn’t trauma—at least I don’t think so—that motivated me to join the U.S. Marines. I think it was the role models I saw in Hollywood films. For example, John Wayne’s movies. By the time I joined the Marines in 1964, John Wayne had been in 158 films. A few that stick in my head are: The Fighting Seabees; Back to Bataan; They were Expendable; Fort Apache; She Wore a Yellow Ribbon; Sands of Iwo Jima; The Horse Soldiers; The Alamo, and The Longest Day, etc.

Of course, no film compares to the reality of combat and coming home from war with PTSD and/or recovering from a severe combat wound. Those factors are also a life altering force.

It seems to me that there are a lot of people in America that are not inspired to be a hero or altruistic.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says that 8.1% of the U.S. population are veterans. In addition, the NY Times reported that less than 1% of the American population is serving in the active military.  What does that tell us about the rest of America—not counting the physically and mentally disabled, police, teachers and firefighters?

Discover John Kerry, Purple Hearts, PTSD and WMD

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

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Missing John Wayne

I was not there when John Wayne dropped by the Battalion CP of the 1st Marine Division’s Tank Battalion in 1966 at Chu Lai, Vietnam. Instead, I was in the field. I don’t remember what I was doing in the field. I was on a night patrol, a recon, an ambush or a field operation but I wasn’t there.

I was in the field getting shot at—a walking target with a radio on my back or driving a radio jeep with no armor.  The jeep I drove in Vietnam was more than twenty years old and had a canvas top with open sides (no doors). Today, it would be unthinkable to send our troops into combat in one of those.

I was told Wayne drove in by himself in a 1945 Willys Jeep and walked around talking to Marines, drank a few warm beers with enlisted men then ate with the officers in their mess tent.

Years later, I wondered if Wayne really visited US troops in Vietnam and discovered, thanks to Google, that he did.

 “Once again, John Wayne found himself in the midst of a heated political controversy. It started in June 1966, when Wayne visited Vietnam to cheer American troops on the front and wounded soldiers in hospitals. The mission of the tour was twofold: It was a good-will trip, and at the same time provided him the opportunity to gather first-hand material for a film.

“It is unclear whether the idea to make a film on Vietnam originated before or during the trip. Before he left for the three-week tour, sponsored by the Department of Defense, Wayne said he was “going around the hinterlands to give the boys something to break the monotony.” “I can’t sing or dance,” he said, but “I can sure shake a lot of hands.” Source: Emanuel Levy Cinema 24/7

If anyone instilled a sense of patriotism in me for the US (not its political leaders), it was growing up watching John Wayne movies.

As a child, I knew nothing of politics but too much, thanks to my mother, of God and the Bible.

My father didn’t believe in God, didn’t vote and didn’t belong to any political party. He deeply distrusted politicians and said they were all liars and couldn’t be trusted. Today, I suspect that what he believed came from having survived the Great Depression (1929 to mid 1940s). At fourteen, he dropped out of school to find a job to survive. He would work for forty-six years before he retired on a union pension.

It doesn’t matter if I agree with Wayne’s conservative, hawkish, right-wing politics, because his screen image did more to instill my sense of patriotism than anything else did. In fact, he may have agreed with my father’s political beliefs.

Wayne’s attitude toward politics was at best ambivalent, considering it a necessary evil. “I hate politics and most politicians,” he repeatedly declared, and “I am not a political figure.” At the same time, he conceded that, “When things get rough and people are saying things that aren’t true, I sometimes open my mouth and eventually get in trouble.”

“About the only thing you have to guide you,” he said, “is your conscience.” One should not let “social groups or petty ambitions or political parties or any institution tempt you to sacrifice your moral standards,” but he conceded that, “It takes a long time to develop a philosophy that enables you to do that.” Integrity and self-respect were his most cherished values, “If you lose your self-respect, you’ve lost everything.” Source: Emanuel Levy Cinema 24/7

 

Good for Wayne. I respect him for being true to what he believed and standing up for it. To this day, I wished I’d been there at my base camp in 1966 the day he drove in to visit the troops, so I could shake his hand and listen to what he had to say.  Two years later, his movie, Green Berets, came out the same year as the Tet Offensive—considered by many to be the turning point in the war that led to the defeat of US goals.

What does patriotism mean to you?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”