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Pots & pans: You and I are the real superheroes

We really are tougher than those make-believe characters

In Hollywood, the seasons turn from summer blockbusters to the fall and winter prestige pictures: Supermen and wonder women are replaced by ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances and/or ordinary people in ordinary circumstances, keenly observed in all their fragility and toughness.

As those stories unfold on the big screen, we play our roles in our own day-to-day dramas. We contend with everything from bothersome neighbors to bosses who have us by the bills.

Some of us, in extreme and rare cases, strike out against others: take lives and play God. Others, like Ieshia Evans during a July Black Lives Matter protest in Louisiana, stand up for justice, alone, yet powerful and heroic.

But, in the main, we neither soar to heroic heights or plunge to tragic depths. Instead, we live, day after day. We live.

Some of us face wrenching circumstances, and the nation, as always, faces stark challenges. Still, we don’t need superheroes to save the day, their hands on their hips, their capes blowing in the wind.

In the superhero movies, things always seem to come down to a monumental crisis: an apocalypse to be a avoided, a monster killed, marauders fought, a time to do or die. In those movies, the village, the metropolis, even the world, and all their institutions, stand inadequate to face down the threat: Only a superhero or a magnificent seven, operating outside of the rules and convention, can save the day, once and for all, or until the sequel.

But in our lives, as the modern civil rights movement showed, we can make the nation’s institutions work better for all Americans. We get chances, again and again, to do the right thing.

Consequently, from the voting booths, to classrooms, from the boardrooms to the street corners, from the houses of worship to the halls of justice, there is work to be done. The ills of our society can be reduced, while the superstars of medicine and science and social science search for cures. Candles can be lit against ignorance, while the avatars of darkness seek to bring on the long night.

Does this sound like a job for you, superman, or you, wonder woman?

A graduate of Hampton University, Jeff Rivers worked for Ebony, HBO and three daily newspapers, winning multiple awards for his columns. Jeff and his wife live in New Jersey and have two children, a son Marc and a daughter Lauren.