Comic Fodder

Reading Comics = Freedom

My favorite superhero was never Superman.

Don’t get me wrong, I like him, but I have always been partial to the idea of the regular guy that worked on himself to become better. People like Batman or Captain America. Granted, Cap has a serum, but it really just nudged him to the physical peak of human capability. Just the fact that these types of characters put in the time and effort, grit and determination to push themselves and improve their performance, gave me an impression that to quit is a bad thing.
Our country is 232 years old now, and the technology and scale of things we can see and do would most likely stun our founding fathers. But there is one thing that is universal, that we hold in common with them now and always will: reading.

There is a saying, and I have heard several variations on it lately: “The biggest things that shape the person you become are the people you know, and the books that you read.” It is from books that we obtain that most precious of concepts, the Idea itself. Movies and television are great for the popcorn, but most of us can remember sitting down with a good book, whether fiction, science, philosophy, whatever, and coming across an idea that made us stop and sit in wonder as we let our brains wrap around the new concept, to explore all of the ramifications of what that idea might mean, to us or to the world in which we live.

Our own modern society still stems from ideas encoded onto paper in the form of the Constitution of the United States. The men who formed that document were men of learning, and they likewise developed their philosophy from talking to each other, and other wise men, and from books. The fact that we have tried to amend it so few times (and even then once retracting the amendment regarding Prohibition) is a testament to what a great document it is for pointing out our inherent freedoms, and helping to guide us. The foundation they set has given us the ability, the freedom, to turn our country into the modern wonder of technology and miracles that is still the envy of the rest of the world. We owe them a debt we can never fully repay, and we owe it to ourselves to take some time at this day every year to appreciate the freedoms we have, and remind ourselves of the responsibility we have to use our freedom wisely.

So what does all of this have to do with comic books, of all things? For me personally, it has everything to do with it, because I learned to read thanks to comics, and I learned about freedom and democracy from comics. My mother read comic books to me when I was a kid, until I could start reading them back to her. My first ideas were simple things, like evil exists, and good should fight it; training in a subject is important; and yes, with great power comes great responsibility.

Public school, unfortunately, did nothing more than introduce me to the basics of the American political system and background. History teachers tended to dismiss the very things that excited the kids, so every time we displayed actual interest in something, the teacher told us that it was not very relevant, and went on to talk about something that put us right back to sleep. But in the comics, I had Captain America!

It was from Steve Rogers that I learned the most important of all things: other people can be free to disagree with me, and I can still be a friend; I don’t have to be part of any political party to be a good American; the current administration does not necessarily represent me or my beliefs; the government occasionally does things that are wrong, and it’s not only okay to protest them, but sometimes it’s the only patriotic thing to do; it’s okay to be embarrassed by something or some action taken by my country; and to always be proud of my country, because it is my job to work towards the ideals contained in the Constitution, it is my job to represent the best that those concepts entail, and it is my responsibility to help try to move our country always in the proper direction to fulfill those high ideals, no matter how many times we may fall short in the process.

So on this special day we have chosen to make tradition, and considers ideas, it is my pleasure to declare that I am proud to be an American, I wish freedom for all the world, and I promise to never stop reading and learning and working to incorporate new ideas to become better.

And I owe it all to comics.

Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

I think you've said it all, my friend. I'm proud to be an American, too!

-- Posted by: Jason at July 4, 2008 10:20 PM

Well done, Travis.

Its amazing how comics can inform us in our formative years, and how the creators use the spirit of each of the characters to navigate complex territory.

-- Posted by: Ryan at July 5, 2008 2:24 AM

Nuff said, my friend! Happy Independence Day to you Travis, and all Americans everywhere!

-- Posted by: earl jones at July 6, 2008 12:54 PM

Well said.

-- Posted by: Jim Brocius at July 6, 2008 3:57 PM

I concur completely with your blog and I wanted you to know that it is people like you and beliefs such as these that remind me why I fight for this country. Thank you good friend. Oh and you still owe me dinner when I return.

-- Posted by: Steph Murphy at July 28, 2008 6:10 AM