Losing a Community – Lessons of Stan Lee
With pen and paper, Stan Lee created communities of fiction that, sometimes, became fact. All of the quotes in today’s posts are his. Stan lee passed away earlier this week at the age of 95 but his legacy will live on in his characters but more importantly in their examples and dialogue.
Two weeks ago I happened upon an advertisement for a house in Calabasas, California. I still am not sure what I entered into the search engine to arrive at this site and yet, intrigued by the house pictures, I happily spent twenty minutes there. It was a real estate website and the houses featured were gorgeous – large, sprawling, and guaranteed to make anyone envious. Yesterday, as I watched the national news about the horrific wildfires in California, something looked familiar. Then I realized it was part of one of the houses from my earlier search in Calabasas. Sure enough, the captions showed I was correct with the location.
The community I had so envied fourteen days ago was not smoldering rubble. No one would be envious of those who had lost their home. Fourteen days ago the houses I had viewed online seemed flawless and one would have assumed that their owners led charmed lives. “No one has a perfect life. Everybody has something that he wishes was not the way it is.”
When we think about community, as I mentioned last week, we tend to think of a homogenous area where people share many things in common. Today, many families in Calabasas are sharing grief and horror. “I think people have always loved things that are bigger than life, things that are imaginative.” I was certainly envious of those mansions I had viewed online. They not only tweaked my envy but my imagination. I had spent time pretending I lived there, happily forgetting the knee pain the winding grand staircases would have increased or the problems in cleaning the yardage of windows.
This had been a community of my dreams but not of my reality. I could not fathom having clothes and shoes enough to fill the massive walk-in closets. In truth, I would not enjoy such but still, for a brief time, it was fun to imagine living in such a community.
“Every day, there’s a new development…There’s no limit to the things that are happening.” The day after I had perused those impeccably designed grand manors in the California community of Calabasas, I looked about my own much more modest abode. It was time to do fall cleaning and prepare for holiday decorating. Suddenly I was very happy to have thousands less square footage as I had more than enough to clean and declutter. I was content to live in my own community. Now two weeks later I grieve for those very people I had recently envied. Their homes were consumed by a fire that cared little for their grandeur. Now, instead of needed my admiration for their magnificent lives, they needed assistance from ordinary people like me.
Farther north another wildfire raged and a family with a one-year-old toddler had to leave everything and evacuate. As they sat far away from the fire that leveled much of their hometown of Paradise, they understandably wondered if their home was now a pile of ashes. Suddenly they received a Face Book message from a stranger asking about their address in Paradise. An ambulance loaded with patients had been stuck in the town of Paradise. The nurses and patients had sought refuge in this family’s garage. The Borden family home had provided protection from the raging fire which created a community of those rescued and this family.
Community is not just a geographical location and through organizations like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and others, we can create our own community and be super heroes. “America is made of different races and different religions, but we’re all co-travelers on the spaceship Earth and must respect and help each other along the way.”
Stan Lee once said that the greatest super power is the ability to help another. Today we have the opportunity to help our community by rendering aid to those devastated by these wildfires. We also need to look ahead and enact policies that will reduce such in the future. We cannot control Mother Nature; she is a super character in her own right. We can, however, plan, prepare, and protect for future generations.
“It’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race – to despise an entire nation – to vilify an entire religion….There is only one who is all powerful, and his greatest weapon is love…. We all wish we had superpowers. We all wish we could more than we can do.” We can do something, however, and we should. “Life is never completely without its challenges. … The power of prayer is still the greatest ever known in this endless eternal universe.”
There has always been much discussion about the afterlife but perhaps we need to focus on the community of the here and now. When we insist on derisiveness and division rather than building community, then we lose not only today’s communities but the chance for those of tomorrow. We need to be the super heroes of today and offer whatever aid we can to our fellow man. This is how we grow a community, even one that appears to have been lost. After all, things are only lost when we stop giving them value. As long as we value community, we will create it. Then we will all be super heroes.