I mulled over the hypothetical question for a few moments then stated, “Invulnerability, because that would be the most useful, practical superpower that could be used in nearly any scenario.”
Jonathan said he had never considered that option because Superman was vulnerable to kryptonite.
We spent the next few minutes discussing the merits and demerits of the most popular, fictional superpowers. Like telepathy which could be useful to foil evil schemes, but we’d also get creeped out by knowing people’s secret erotic fantasies. Invisibility would be fun but unless you also have the complimentary power of making clothing and accessories invisible, you’d have to walk around naked to be undetectable–that’s creepy, too.
Jonathan said while it’s fun to imagine superpowers, that it’s childish to fantasize about them. I added that, knowing human nature, anyone who actually had one, would be tempted to abuse the power, or at the very least would probably become a jerk.
I asked my friend who his real-life human hero is.
Jonathan swept a hand across his forehead to brush aside his blonde bangs then answered, “Stephen Hawking”. I nodded and urged him to explain. “Hawking not only overcame the claustrophobic physical limitations of ALS, but he was a bad-ass intelligent guy. He was a visionary thinker who was able to describe complex concepts in a way that the average person could understand.
When it was my turn to reply, I mentioned another Englishman, Alan Turing. He was also a highly intelligent person who suffered a tragic fate. Famously, Turing devised techniques to crack the Nazi’s Enigma secret coding machine. This helped the allies to defeat the evil fascist regime in many important battles. He was not only an amazing cryptanalyst, Turing was a sharp mathematician, a theoretical biologist, the father of theoretical computer science, and a brilliant philosopher.
Unfortunately, Turing was oppressed by the very government he had contributed greatly to. He was prosecuted in 1952 for acting out his homosexual orientation, which was then a crime in Britain. He reluctantly accepted the punishment of chemical castration in place of imprisonment. About two years later, Turing died from cyanide poisoning. Officially his death is listed as suicide, but some experts claim his death may have been an accidental poisoning.
“Amongst the qualities a hero should have, I would include determination, loyalty, courage, perseverance, patience, focus, intrepidity and selflessness.”–Ricky Martin
So, who else does Jonathan hold in high esteem? My pal said he really likes astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Of course, he was the second person to walk on the Moon. A lot of people don’t know that Aldrin was a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot during the Korean War. He flew several combat missions and shot down two MiG jet fighters. After Aldrin’s stint with NASA, he became Commandant of the Air Force’s Test Pilot School. He is a visionary thinker and an outspoken critic of Moon-landing deniers.
Meantime, I mentioned one other hero who has been a role-model for many of us media workers. Walter Cronkite was the journalists’ journalist and was known as being “the most trusted man in America”. Cronkite was one of my many superheroes.
Jonathan noted that it’s very important to choose your heroes wisely. If you choose one who has a lot of flaws, you can get distracted from creating a good life.
I stated that I gave up on having heroes long ago, because human heroes end up having disappointing flaws, and mythical heroes are usually heroic because of supernatural or unattainable powers. Instead of heroes, I have a short list of people who I greatly admire. Some are famous, and some are family and close friends I’ve known.