Jack and Reid –
Last night, your mother and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises, the last in a trilogy of Batman movies. It was opening night. I’d been looking forward to going for some time. This shouldn’t surprise you. Your middle names are Peter and Parker, after all.
We almost didn’t go.
The night before, a man walked into one of the movie’s first screenings and did something horrible. Reports from Aurora, Colorado are confused and contradictory, as they always are in the early days of tragedy. It will be some time before we know what truly happened. Maybe we never will. I already know all I care to hear because what I’ve heard already sickens me.
Your mother was sick over it, too. This is the reason we almost didn’t go to the movie.
It upset her that something so horrible could happen, in a movie theatre, of all places. It upset her that there were children in the audience. She can’t hear of such things without thinking of you both. And it really upset her that there was a comic book connection, that these movies might have possibly inspired such a thing to happen. Especially with the interest that you, Jack, already have in capes and masks. Reid, the verdict is still out with you, but given the way you already love your brother, it would hardly surprise either of us if you followed suit.
People who watch the violence and the villains and see inspirations are missing the point. Not that long ago, men crashed planes into the sides of buildings. It shocked us. Men have, sadly, done far worse things over time. The world can be a horrible place sometimes, even without men who wear fright make up or carry freeze rays. Men can do bad things, for reasons that are rarely understandable.
But men can also do far, far better. That, in a way, is the irony of what happened in Colorado. This movie is the one where Bruce Wayne becomes the best kind of hero. He started as a man who did strange things for the right reasons. Then he did the wrong things for the right reasons. Now, he does the right things for the right reasons. And he inspired those around him to do the same.
That, boys, is the real lesson that superheroes instilled in me, when I was young and would lay on my stomach reading comic books until my fingers smelled of newsprint. That no matter how grotesque the enemy, perverse the act or pain they felt, there are men who would stand in opposition. And they did it because that was what you should do.
Always remember that, boys. Being a good man is not always easy. It is not always appreciated. It is not always even fashionable. Convenience, recognition and being cool are not the point.
The world is dark enough. Shed some light, in any way you can. One man can make a difference.
Make the right kind of difference. And inspire others to do the same.
I love you,