During our Summer Institute for teachers, June 28-July 2, participants offered the group short presentations on any humane education topic. Andy Beardsley, a high school English teacher, explored superheroes with us and then invited us to consider what superhero we would be, what powers we would have, and how our superhero story would originate were we to craft such an alter ego for ourselves.
Andy had already thought of the superhero I would be – MOGO Girl – so I was off and running. I immediately thought that my super power would be the ability to make people see the true impacts of their choices and feel compassion as they witnessed the suffering, cruelty and destruction that lay behind even the smallest decisions about what they ate or wore or purchased or chose for entertainment. For example, as someone was about to purchase a conventional chocolate bar, they would witness the slave children toiling in cocoa plantations that provided the cocoa beans, or as they were about to eat an omelet they would witness the chickens crammed together in battery cages, unable to stretch a wing and the male chicks from egg-laying hatcheries ground up alive for feed and the spent hens on the slaughterhouse lines, many of them still alive as they’re dropped into the scalding tanks to loosen their feathers. The ability to see would alter people’s choices and compel humane and sustainable changes in our culture. It would be the culmination of my work as a humane educator rolled into an effective super power that motivates us all to change, based on a combination of our knowledge and our care.
Now I just have to design my costume!
What I love about this activity is the opportunity it provides to kids to imagine themselves as heroes, righting wrongs, making a difference, having the power to do great things with their lives. Instead of simply loving other superheroes, Andy had us using our creativity to imagine ourselves as superheroes. What a gift this is! To be invited to see ourselves in this light is to launch a new vision for our abilities and our commitments and to recognize the hero within who has the power – even through imagination – to be a positive force for good.
What superhero would you be? What would your powers be? What effect does imagining this have on you? I welcome your thoughts.
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, The Power and Promise of Humane Education and Above All, Be Kind
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