Does Superman, the most iconic American hero over the past 75 years, have what it takes to end global poverty? On the one hand, he’s long been the go-to-guy for the world’s problems. On the other hand, he’s only one man. And isn’t the issue of poverty just too darned big for one man to make a difference? Let’s get into the character analysis.
1. Superman is the ultimate immigrant story.
Superman crash landed on Earth after his parents jettisoned him from his home planet, Krypton, before it eventually exploded. As the story-line goes, Superman’s parents were seeking a better life for their baby. They saw Earth as the perfect place for him to lead this life and seize an opportunity to thrive amongst humans, potentially doing a lot of good for society on Earth.
As an immigrant himself, Superman would no doubt feel entirely comfortable in a relief scenario. Whether it is relating to displaced persons or providing food aid to hungry children, Superman knows no borders to his work and will have the greatest ability to empathize with shocks to the home life that impact the way people live. He also has that power to learn languages quickly.
2. Superman knows agriculture.
After Superman crash landed, he was found and raised by two Kansas farmers. Clearly, the guy knows agriculture. It’s no surprise that he could be just the man for the job in relief work. Not only would Superman be hip to the more modernized technologies in the industry, he would no doubt be a demon with a plow. Forget the tractor, give the Man of Steel twelve machine hook-ups and watch him prepare that soil for sowing in no time! Alternatively, he could use his super breath to create some forced-air rows.
3. Superman fights for the little guy.
Ever since his early days, Superman has fought for the weak and the oppressed. He has taken the worthy cause, no matter the peril or eventual harm to himself. It seems, therefore, that Superman would beeline for relief work, helping in any way he could. It’s not every day that the world is under some catastrophic and acute threat from outer-space. So, this would give him something to occupy himself on his days off.
4. Superman is us.
Finally, and most importantly, Superman is us. Superman embodies, and has done so since the beginning, the American Dream. He is the personification of our hopes and fears. In World War II, he marched with us against the Nazis in Germany. In the 1950s, he became the world peacekeeper that we saw in ourselves. In the ’60s and ’70s, the story turned more inward to address Superman’s identity, reflecting the youth of our nation in questioning who he was in society. And in the late 20th century, he took on arch-nemesis Lex Luther, the king of capitalism and big corporations in America.
Today, with global poverty on the forefront of our national conscience, it is self-evident that our national hero would be the first to face the challenge. What’s ironic about this, however, is that Superman’s most influential move would be to voice his opinion in American politics. To do so, he, like us, would begin by contacting his local Congressperson to show his support for poverty relief in foreign policy. As one man, Superman needs us to back him in this move.
Strangely, in the fight against global poverty, we are all Superman.
– Herman Watson