So last night I sorta inceptioned myself. I had a dream that I was Batman, running though the routine of stopping the Joker who had planted a bomb on a boat with a bunch of teenagers. The first half of the dream had me as Batman, stopping the Jokers plans and seemingly saving the day while in actuality my hubris caused the bomb to unknowingly go off.
While the second half of the dream had me assume the role of one of the teens. As soon as the bomb went off I was transported to a world where elephants enslaved people and I helped to lead a revolution to overthrow our pachyderm overlords and return to the real world.
But here’s the kicker. In the midst of our final stand against the elephants, the dream began to jump between our revolution and my teenage self being pulled from a lake by emergency personnel. I soon realized (right before I finally actually awoke) that the “reality” of my dream was that I, along with several people, had been in a boating accident and that I was simply imagining the Batman and elephant tales as I swung in and out of a coma.
Needless to say, mushroom pizza and wine before bed may not be a good combo for my subconscious. However, my journey down the rabbit hole got me thinking: this overlap of fictitious heroic tales and real life tragedy is not a dream, it’s something we experience every day. We all love games, comics, movies and tv. It’s hard to not feel like a champion when we live vicariously through the eyes of Nathan Drake, Batman, or Jon Snow. But the reality is that when we turn the last page or click the tv off we are transported to the real world again, and it’s a place deeply marred by tragedy.
So what are we to do? Well there are really only two options. Option one is we allow the exploits of our fictitious heroes to simply remain in a fantasy world. We join them when we need an escape from reality and we never let their heroism extend beyond the screen.
Or option two is we bridge the gap between fantasy and reality. Like a committed sidekick we follow after these heroes in the best way that we can and to the fullest of our abilities which means we emulate them within the confines of our own life. We stamp out injustice where it grows like a weed, we fight for love, and we help build a world that can only exist when real heroes rise up.
We may not have to fight the Joker or super intelligent elephants but we can fight against bullies and terrorists and oppressive regimes. We can fight in a way in which the best of our heroes do: by preserving life and liberty for all, even those who are our enemies. Only then may we hope to bring about change which is lasting and effective. But first we have to wake up and make the choice; will we be real heroes in a world that needs them or will we simply remain asleep in our own fantasies?