Originally published 6/20/11, 10:51 am.
It seems that in the world of comics (specifically "the DC universe") Superman is going to renounce his Amercian citizenship. See
What is happening in this world of comics is not really what is bothering me about this entry. What concerns me is what this says about the moral attitude in our world today. To be honest, I don't really know this story line and so what I am about to present may be off. It seems that Superman is considering giving up his American citizenship so that the Iranians cannot accuse him of being an agent of the U.S. Another response could have been Superman stating that while he did not act at the insistence or even bequest of the U.S., he nonetheless is proud of having his actions connected with a nation that shares his values. This comic's storyline informs us what the world thinks today.
Perhaps not all the world but enough of an element that it can influence the development of such a storyline. It would be one thing if the political leaders of the U.S., fearing Iranian retaliation, told Superman that he should not act without their prior approval. That's not what the story line is about. It's Superman not liking the potential for people like the Iranians to declare that he is American, limited by American values. He has to be open, perceived to be more tolerant and accepting.
And that's precisely the problem. It seems that it is not okay to stand by your values and declare that you are connected to those who share these values.
I think that there is something inherently wrong in the way the general population today approaches the world of ethics and morals. Its almost that the value of tolerance is perceived to top everything and maintaining a strong conviction has become problematic. The story line of this comic seems to infer that there is a problem with taking a specific stand in a world of differing stands. Its a problem for Superman to be perceived as upholding American values and positions for that would infer that he is not truly universal.
What happened to the concept of believing that you are correct and that your value position should be the one that is implemented by the world? There is a place for tolerance but not when it obliterates the possession of other values.
If I stand for a certain value and that associates me with fellow Jews, my response should not be one of concern but rather of pride. My values are Jewish. They may also be values that other members of the world community share but for me they associate me with the Jewish people.
I should not be concerned by that commitment because it limits my appeal. I should declare that this similarity in values is precisely why I identify with the Jewish people and drives a rift between me and members of other groups that negate these very values.
Rabbi Ben Hecht