Do superheroes have courage?

Elmhurst School for Boys

16th January 2012

An odd question, you might think.

I chose ‘courage’ as today’s assembly theme because it is one of the Paralympic values. We are examining all the Olympic and Paralympic values in school, now that we have achieved the status of ‘Olympic School 2012’.

So, we had two volunteers this morning: Reshe, who took the role of the ‘Immortal Superhero Mask Man’, with elemental powers(!); and Simon, who played himself – i.e. not immortal and no special powers at all. The task for these two volunteers: to rescue a damsel in distress from an imaginary fire. Mrs Buckland kindly rose to the challenge of this role!

Immortal Superhero Mask Man was of course able to swoop in on his special wings, put out the flames with his water-gush powers, and pluck Mrs B to safety. Simon, on the other hand, had to climb up the burning stairs, dash into the room and collect the fair damsel with nothing but his manly spirit to aid him.

The question: which one of these two characters showed courage? Was it the superhero or the normal boy? Of course, it was Simon, because in order to do the heroic act, he had to overcome obstacles and put himself at risk. The superhero was risking nothing – it was easy for him.

What relevance is this to Olympic values? Well, the athletes who take part in the Paralympics have in all cases had to overcome great personal obstacles in their desire to succeed. They show spirit and courage in all that they do, and they are an amazing example to us all.

The Ancient Greeks knew this – it’s all in Homer, would you believe. The mortals on earth are heroic, because they risk everything, and in that way they are greater than the gods.

We salute the Paralympians – and aim for courage in our own hearts.

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