After seeing the latest movie, my sister and I had a lively discussion about Superman’s right or duty to act as he does. I thought I’d solicit some thoughts from the Teeming Millions. I considered putting this in Great Debates–after all, the Mutant Registration thread was there–but I decided it was silly. I would like to have a discussion on the issue though.
First let me define the parameters of the argument. First, I’m assuming we’re talking about the real world, or some facsimile more reasonable than those in comic books. Second, in this scenario there is one and only one fantastic element: you, the reasonably intelligent Kryptonian. (No invading space aliens or sorcerers to worry about, only the same complement of terrorists and criminals afflicting the real world0. You’ve got all Superman’s post-crisis powers, and the sum total of the world’s kryptonite can be held in the palm of your hand. (Well, someone ELSE’S hand.) You also have the same signed note from God exempting you from following the laws of physics that allows Superman to catch 777s without crushing them. However, you’re no smarter than you are now, and you’ve no access to Kryptonian tech. Finally,when I write “superhero,” I mean “person using his or her superpowers on a regular basis for the betterment of the world,” not necessarily “person wearing underwear outside his pants.”
Under such circumstances, have you any ethical obligation to be use your power for the betterment of the world? Why or why not?
I say yes.
My reasoning is by analogy. Say I, as the ordinary mortal I am today, happened to be walking by my neighbor’s wading pool, when I observed a child drowning in six inches of water. There are no lifeguards or anyone else capable of helping the child nearby, but I am capable, with minimal or zero cost to myself, of rescuing the child. In such circumstances, I would call it immoral for me NOT to intervene; the social contract, in fact, seems to demand that I act. To a Kryptonian of course, the entire world is accessible as quickly as my neighbordhood is to me, and the vast majority of dangers are even less consequential that that shallow wading poool is to a mortal. Not acting whenever the need is apparent seems indefensible…at least to me.
Any thoughts, yea or nay?