Great Power, Great Responsibility

I am starting off this post by saying that I am not really a fanboy.  I don’t buy comic books.   I barely understand the sprawling universe that exists in Marvel, DC …and if there is another comic book company, I wouldn’t even know what the name of it is.

However, I do love a good popcorn flick, and have seen the translations when they come to the screen.  Part of it could be because I have an enormous crush on Andrew Garfield and perhaps a fan crush on Emma Stone (who I think I would like to be friends with).

I saw the Spider-Man movies when they came out with Tobey Maguire, and the most recent incarnation.  I enjoyed them for what they were:  escapism from reality, a place where someone stands up for what they believe in, solves crimes, and gets the girl in the end.  (Even though I wish it were me Andrew Garfield got in the end…but that’s a topic for an entirely different posting).

It’s dialogue.  I get that.  But the one thing that resonates with me is this line from Uncle Ben Parker:

With great power comes great responsibility.

This is particularly relevant today, as I woke up and opened up my New York Times app as I do every morning, to read the stories.  And there was an article about how someone opened fire in front of the Empire State Building, fatally wounding one person, and injuring several others.

In light of the recent string of shootings that have been occurring, I find this to be abhorrent.  First and foremost, my thoughts are with the victims of the tragedy.  With the man who was shot by his former co-worker, but also with the victim for an entirely different reason that I hope to get into in this blog.

It’s a line that could be called cheesy from a movie that could simply be called fluff.  But why does Spider-Man, or any of these masked superheroes resonate with people?  I suppose the cool costumes, I suppose the special powers, their wits, maybe even their fancy toys.

But all of them — including Iron Man, the bad boy of the superhero world, are out to do GOOD.  They are the ones we root for.  We love watching a character like the Joker, because we know no matter how evil he is, the good guy will get him in the end.  At least, this is what keeps me flocking back to see movies that are basically the same retread of a script that I have already seen with an ending that I already know.

There has been a lot of discussion recently in the local and national media about gun rights, regulations.  As soon as a shooting like this occurs, people come out of the wood work saying, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Yes.  Absolutely.  People make that horrific conscious choice to shoot someone else.  Whether in some sort of tiff or or whatever justification they have come up with for the killing of innocent people, it is still their choice.  They gun did not, nor will it ever, compel them to make that choice.  The shooter alone makes that decision, and the effects have a ripple effect felt for many years after they have turned the weapon on themselves.

I don’t know any of these people in New York City who were shot.  I find it repulsive, disgusting, and absolutely reckless what this man did.  Yet I can’t help but wonder where the system has failed him.  Have we failed to provide safety checks to make sure he was mentally sound to own and operate a gun with the firing power to hurt nine people?


We have laws for driving cars.  You have to take a test, and prove to someone that you are capable of handling what is essentially a mobile weapon if used in that way.  Most people would never even think of it as a weapon.  It’s their daily commute to the grocery store, to work, to the movies.  But ask anyone who has ever been involved in a collision where the other party died.  It is an awesome weight, and one not to be carried lightly.  Cars are dangerous.  But cars don’t kill people.  People kill people.

It’s time for us to grow up as a nation, and stop shuffling this issue under the rug.  We need to have an adult conversation about weapons, and about their right to exist.  Our 2nd Amendment right guarantees us the right to bear arms.  Its exact wording is the following:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Therein lies the problem.  There was a nice article on that addressed this issue much more clearly than I ever could.

I am not a legal scholar.  I couldn’t even begin to dive into every nook and cranny and dissect it.  But as someone who does value the weight of words, and what they mean in our daily lives, I do take issue with the statement, “The right of the people” shall not be infringed.  I have always interpreted this to mean that as a collective we, should our sovereignty be threatened, we have the right to bear arms and protect ourselves.  Whether this was the founding fathers’ original intent, I do not know.

Guns in all their variety have served as the original weapons of mass destruction.  And while there are statistics that say say more people are killed with cars than with guns, we have laws governing them.

We need more laws governing guns.  Proper training, a proper background check, a renewed sense of understanding of what is contained in these devices.  Nothing good comes from shooting someone.  You may think you’re doing right, but the person on the other end, their family, their community would disagree.

It’s time for us to have a real, honest conversation.  I’m just afraid that our politicians are too afraid of taking a stand and making a choice.  But a weapon is extremely powerful, and with great power comes great responsibility.





Posted on August 24, 2012, in Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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