The better part of me

One of our favorite songs since the turn of the century is “Superman” recorded by Five for Fighting and penned by John Ondrasik. I am intrigued by the humanity afforded Superman in the haunting lyrics. But, the words that resonate the most with me are the lines spoken as Superman, “I’m just out to find, the better part of me.” Here is the first half of the song.

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
I’m just out to find
The better part of me
I’m more than a bird. I’m more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me
Wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I’ll never see
It may sound absurd, but don’t be naive
Even Heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed, but won’t you concede
Even Heroes have the right to dream
It’s not easy to be me

To me, the song reveals even a superhero has insecurities, wants and dreams. Even a superhero is searching to find “the better part of me.” We are an imperfect people. While we have true heroes that live and breathe amongst us, they are imperfect just like everyone else. So, we should not hold people up to a higher standard, as they will only fail to live up to those standards. Even if heroic or a great leader, they will also be imperfect.

One of the finest people ever to walk the earth was Mother Teresa, a true light for many. Yet, Mother Teresa noted in her journal that she prayed to God when she felt less pious. When she was broken down and tired, she prayed that she could get back to a better place. She prayed to rekindle “the better part of me.” In a recent survey published in Reader’s Digest, ministers also noted that there are occasions when they feel less pious and need to find their way back.

Gandhi was in a similar predicament. Here was an attorney who decided his life’s calling would be to fight for the disenfranchised. He would use his voice and body to say things are not right through civil disobedience. Yet, he was imperfect and had enemies as well. Martin Luther King took to heart Gandhi’s civil disobedience and adopted the strategy in the US during the civil rights fight. Yet, MLK was not perfect either. But, both Gandhi and Martin Luther King lived “the better part of me” and because of that, helped millions and are heroes to many.

I wrote recently about the wonderful series on PBS by Ken Burns on The Roosevelt’s – Teddy, Eleanor and Franklin. All came from the elite and were by no means perfect. Teddy could be a bully and liked notoriety. But, Teddy hated unfair advantage and wanted folks to have equal opportunity, a “square deal,” he called it. Eleanor was strident in her convictions, but was shy and aloof and turned many off, until she learned how to cultivate relationships and use her powers of persuasion to do great things. Franklin would use his version of the bully pulpit to get things done. He also had several affairs. But, he helped save the world from tyranny, promoted the New Deal and helped America focus its manufacturing muscle on the war effort. Each accomplished a great deal for this country and our world is better place because of them.

These folks are all heroes. Yet, they are all imperfect. For some reason, we have forgotten this and want our leaders to be perfect in every way. By the numbers, Bill Clinton may be the best president we have had in the last fifty years, yet he had a wandering eye and an impeachment scandal evolved when one tryst occurred in the Oval Office. Ronald Reagan is touted as the paragon for conservative presidents and did many good things, yet he was almost impeached over the Iran-Contra affair and did not believe we should sanction South Africa for Apartheid, his veto fortunately being overturned. Yet, Reagan’s ad lib comment in a speech helped bring down the Berlin Wall among some of his other accomplishments.

We are not perfect either. We will  make mistakes just like everyone else. We should do the best we can and find “the better part of me” for ourselves. If we can do this, we can more legitimately expect others to do the same, especially our leaders. We can also treat others like we want to be treated. And, that includes forgiving others for mistakes, as we would hope they would do with ours.  No one is perfect, not even Superman.

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9 thoughts on “The better part of me

  1. that song has always affected me as well, the tune compliments the lyrics, and it sweeps us into inward retrospection. at times we do feel overwhelmed, and surely our leaders – under close scrutiny – wish the spotlights would vanish so they could repair and mend in privacy and prepare for the next challenge.

    great post, and i’m still hobbling along w/few internet options, but definitely squeezing the most from each day. happy holidays to you and your family and wp family! z

    • Thanks Z. The voice mixes well with lyrics and spacing. It does allow retrospection. Unfortunately, our leaders are pretty much told what to think by donors. While they try to weave in some good in between their orders, their proverbial slip keeps showing. Have a great weekend, BTG

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more that we are all imperfect. But we must be careful about lulling ourselves into thinking w are the best we can be. I like to “hold myself to a higher standard” and try to be a bit better each and every day — at least try. If I convince myself that I am all I can be RIGHT NOW I will become complaisant. No?

    • Good point about complacency. I would counter with “the better part of me” means to keep growing and learning. If we did not, we would be doing an injustice to ourselves and each other. Great comments. Have a great weekend, BTG

  3. Its great to strive to be better, but in the striving, we must also learn personal acceptance. Otherwise, the striving to improve just makes us grow to be constantly disapproving of ourselves today. In striving to be better, we don’t let ourselves acknowledge the successes of today.

    Great post

    • Great comment. We should guard against complacency as Hugh notes, strive to be better, but also be realistic in our goal setting. I was thinking of Forrest Gump’s line to Jenny when he proposed and she said no. “I know I am not a smart man, but I know what love is.” Have a great weekend and thanks for commenting. BTG

  4. Note to Readers: I was reminded this morning about our lives being filled with areas of gray. We should set out to do the right thing, yet we will fail to follow through at times. We may short cut something out of convenience. So, we need to recognize this, fess up and choose to do better.

    As a former supervisor, I would manage imperfect people like me. Sometimes the better performers would have a large ego and be less of a team player. It was all about them. When you supervise someone like this, you have to find your moments to suggest better action. So, here is a productive person, with faults. My point is no one is perfect, even the better performers.

    So, we need to be the best we can be, and then encourage others to do the same. Even the ones who do not think anything they are doing is wrong. BTG

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