When I was a kid reading these wonderful comics (at least the few I could get my hands on) I was a little bit scared of Batman. That was a dark world he lived in. On the other hand, I loved Spiderman and Superman. Spiderman was someone who gained superpowers so maybe one day I could fantastically gain superpowers as well I secretly hoped. While Superman was just loved by everyone and had, it seemed like, every super power imaginable.
Batman was so stoic and fought evil so well I never really noticed that he didn’t have super powers – a combination of great marketing and me just being a kid I guess. The villains he fought viciously and effectively. I always thought he was the dark knight because he always seemed to be fighting those villains at night. Stupid right?
Well, now that I think about it I can see how it adds to the dark temperament of Batman. His whole world is dark not just that he fights at night. He lost his parents whom he loved deeply only to be filled by a cold, dark world of wealth in a city of corruption. Eventually realizing the difficult lesson that money can’t replace a parent’s love.
These things only add to the dark mystery of the dark knight. The best life lesson I have learned from Batman is that you become that which you fight against. His greater struggle beyond elusive happiness, anger, and frustration is that of what you resist persists. He hates the evil filth he has to fight against. Struggling daily to reach some sense of a peace of mind to deal with a corrupt world, he continually asks himself, “Why not just surrender to the temptation and become Ra’s al Ghul?”.
That is the greatest life lesson I have taken from Batman. He is called The Dark Knight because his Dark potential is seen by so many that desperately support him to remain a true Knight. He is the knight of continual downfall only constantly having to rise again. A knight of the greatest magnitude who we can relate to because the greatest among us still have their own personal problems as well. He reminds us of our own internal struggles and temptations. He reminds us we are still human. Human beings who are only striving to still being human. I am more than a human being. I am simply being human.
It is the corrupting nature of power – some say absolute power, absolutely corrupts.
This all comes hitting home on a personal level when we are working on our own personal problems. Batman allows us to do this safely from a distance. As an adult, now I get to do this by seeing this life lesson in a cartoon. I am then easier on myself. I mean, if Batman is having a problem . . . .
It is the fight to keep his honor that we admire because we all suffered this same struggle with the temptation of power.
Intense dedication to eliminating evil causes us to become evil. Remember Queen Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings? This is the feminine version of Batman’s struggle. In The Lord of the Rings is happened in a moment. When Galadriel was offered the ring by Frodo. There the case is made that absolute power absolute corrupts. And it is a lesson best learned in vulnerability.
“And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!”
She lifted up her hand and from the ring that she wore there issued a great light that illuminated her alone and left all else dark. She stood before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement, and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful. Then she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad.
“I pass the test”, she said. “I will diminish, and go into the West and remain Galadriel.”
It is the last part that is often overlooked. She was grateful and relieved to diminish from the previous moment of absolute power. She was just able to be herself again. She was a noble human being, another example of incredible wisdom, personal control, and an example to be learned from.
Fiction gives us such an incredible opportunity to see universal truths that transcend politics and business and religion and psychology and philosophy and science which are often still bickering over their own methodology.
When lessons are told in a story it is fun to learn. We are led gently along the path to realizing our own internal war that connects us together by realizing the raging war within Batman ourselves. As he holds it together we realize . . . it was what his parents would have done – helped people.
Batman knows he could take over Gotham. He has the physical power to kill all the bad guys and the financial money from the Wayne empire to control the city. This disturbs him. It disturbs him because a part of him actually wants too. It is the temptation we ourselves want to be faced with one day and so we are, on a smaller scale, every day. The Batman give us this in a softer way to not scare us away from beginning to understand ourselves and our influence in this world. Some of the most difficult life lessons can begin to be handled as children and The Batman can ease us into this.
The character of Batman draws on that part of us that desires purpose in life. We want to either be The Batman or be protected by him. We want someone with the ability to achieve absolute power and the character not to take it. The temptation takes its toll though. It is brutal work and often under appreciated. It is our support of good wherever we may find it that helps us live life better. Then we may be empowered and be able to live life ourselves.
May we all continue to “pass the test” and help other people to pass it as well and remember the lessons found in The Dark Knight well.