Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fighting the Green Bottle

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I have not been adequately acquainted with Spiderman. I haven't seen his life span out in a single Marvel comic book, or observed him throwing webs and climbing up movie screens. I saw Toby Maguire once at a party in New York, but other than that, I'm entirely ignorant about this old-school superhero and his vigilante antics.

One of my former students taught me all about him though. Reading her college essay, I learned that The Green Goblin and Spiderman both aquire super-human powers; The Green Goblin chooses to use his powers for selfish gain, while Spiderman dedicates his life to helping others. She used the archetype of the good guy/bad guy relationship to illustrate larger issues in our world--particularly with respect to what's going on in our economy.

I read her essay a few days ago, but it came back to me again tonight when I watched The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. The show featured a story about "pick up artists" who were traversing the nation in an effort to make a difference. Armed with bags and manual claws, they are traveling coast to coast in pursuit of a greener earth. With unemployment, pollution and political unrest poisoning the lives of many otherwise happy people--some are understandably finding reasons to wallow in self-pity. These kids, however, have decided to spend their time picking up trash along highways spanning from the east coast to California.

I couldn't help but think of M's essay. I couldn't help but consider her argument that we all have a choice whether we want to act like The Green Goblin or we want to act like Spiderman. We all have a choice to sit back and complain or to strap on our suit and find some way to make a difference. We all have a choice, and these "pick up artists" made theirs. Hopping on a bus fueled by vegetable oil, they committed their days and nights to eliminating toxins from our world. The became little spidermen, fighting against pollution and greed one Green Bottle at a time.

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