How Stan Lee Made Me Who I Am

by admin on November 12, 2018

When I heard that Stan Lee passed away, I immediately decided to shoot a video about what it meant to me. Surprisingly, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done in a long time.

Why was that? It’s probably because Stan Lee helped make me the man I am.

I’m normally talking about clean transportation, renewable energy, and D.I.Y. But all of those things are really about empowerment – the ability to do, and make the world a better place. Pretty much what super-heroes do.

It would be easy to discount comic books as unimportant. After all, they are just entertainment. They aren’t Shakespeare, they aren’t Literature, and they aren’t the Great American Novel. What they are though, is INFLUENTIAL. Comic books are part of the American Culture in such a way that we don’t even think about it. How many kids are reading Shakespeare? Now how many are reading comic books?

In many ways, the characters in comic books are ingrained in us.
Story-telling itself is one of the oldest elements of culture and storytelling is uniquely human. From stories around camp-fires to the epic of Gilgamesh to The Odyssey, stories define the world around us and tell us who we are.

Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben said that “With great power comes great responsibility.”
I still hold corporate leaders and politicians to that same scale.

I always liked how the comic book heroes would overcome all odds to do the right thing. Even when (especially when) it would mean loss or heart-ache for them. Not that they were all perfect. Some of the best story lines were when heroes were in conflict or came to great moral dilemmas.

The heros were always the best of us. They gave us something to look up to. Each one of them was different. I loved the team-ups. THE AVENGERS weren’t just a single hero, but the best of the best working together to overcome unsurmountable odds to defeat the villain, save the planet, or even the universe!

Every day there are the little things that we need to overcome. It might not be epic. Still, there are days when it’s plenty of work just to be nice to a co-worker, or take the extra effort to make some good thing happen. It’s not always easy. But things were never easy for the heroes either.

Our heroes make us better. It could be a teacher or relative or neighbor, but so often it was also pencil and ink characters in a thin stapled magazine.

I was always partly interested in science because Peter Parker liked science. I was interested in inventing, because that’s what Tony Stark did. I might never be the patriot that Captain America is, but sometimes he gives me the courage to stand up when I see wrong. These characters aren’t just two-dimensional paper cut-outs, they are the Titans of our modern mythology. We know who they are, and their stories help guide us every bit as much as Gilgamesh and Odysseus.

We always lose a bit of ourselves anytime we lose anyone in society, but perhaps we hurt the most when we lose our storytellers. Shamans, puppeteers, musicians – creators and chroniclers all. I cried when Jim Henson died. We all mourned when Prince, Tom Petty, and Aretha Franklin left this world.

But all of the storytellers become immortal through their characters. They won’t be forgotten. And we are all better for it.

Rest in Peace, Stan Lee.


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