Using our Superpowers

My grandchildren love to watch the current string of Marvel movies—there are 23 of them so far, and I have completely lost track of the characters and plots, despite several entertaining hours on a road trip last summer when the two kids tried to summarize the whole universe for me while cracking each other up, making mistakes, and confusing the movies and plots and universes. Both peals of laughter and serious debate were emanating from the backseat as we sped over the mountains heading west. How was I supposed to keep track?

Somewhere out west… July 2019

This led to a conversation about where superpowers come from, categorizing who has what power and whether they use it for good or evil. After a while this turned into the question: What superpower would you most like to have?; which turned into the question: What do you think your superpower already is?

This summer, no road trip. Instead I live alongside the uprising of Black Lives Matter and within the isolation of the pandemic observing all that has been unleashed in this country. And I have been thinking about power, super-power, power-over and power-with. We are in a cultural shift of huge proportions, in a battle between good and evil (defined differently by differing world views, of course), and navigating a time when the systems that have held us in domination and oppression of one another need to be torn asunder and reassembled. Our lives depend on our actions now: actions played out inside a society crumbling under the weight of its own injustices on a planet crumbling under the weight of us.

The “grandmother moment” in the car was the conversation about how we each have super powers we can use if we turn them up, turn them on, learn to live with the responsibility, and trust that what we do in our own lives contributes to the big causes of the world. Only for us ordinary marvels there are no special effects: we have to believe in our superpowers when we can’t see or hear the shazam or watch how the strength of our courage can knock over giants.

2nd Street: saying their names in Langley, WA

The “elder activist moment” is to believe what I told the kids and to expend all the shazam I’ve got left to influence what comes next. Personally, I’m committed to “liberty and justice for all…” I don’t have a cape and haven’t had a haircut since February. I’m committed  to love my neighbor and love the earth. I haven’t hugged anyone outside my bubble of 2 + dog since March, and I’ve eaten all the kale and peas. I’m committed to Black Lives Matter. I get it that white skin, wrinkled female that I am, is still the safety default and it should NOT be this way!

No special effects means I have to trust every emotion as sourcing empowerment, and every gesture as changing the world around me for the better—even when I can’t perceive the shazam.

  • So in the pandemic I am asking: how is isolation a superpower?
  • In the uprising for racial justice, how is anti-racism a superpower?
  • In  the economic instability, how is living simply a superpower?
  • In the climate crisis, how is lowering my carbon footprint a superpower?
  • In my citizenship, how is voting a superpower?
  • In my community, how is civility a superpower?
  • In my family and friends, how is love a superpower?
  • In my heart, how is trust a superpower?

July 4th, supporting local candidate–wearing the shirt.

So I went into the grocery store wearing a black tee-shirt that said: Listening. Learning. Let’s Talk. (on the front) and said BLM ALLY (on the back). At the entrance, a row of shopping carts was stuck together and an older man (meaning older than me!), sweet-faced (as much as we could see each other’s faces over the masks) asked, “Want to help me untangle these?” Of course I did; so for the next few minutes we pulled carts—him at one end, me at the other—handing them to folks coming in the store. We’d already established camaraderie when I noticed he was wearing a tee-shirt with a skull painted like the American flag, crossed with assault rifles and the slogan: One Nation Under God. No wonder people were looking at us quizzically as they hurried toward the hand sanitizer.

A hidden smile made my eyes twinkle at him. We were not afraid. Shazam!

I say: let’s all not be afraid to live this change. Day by day let’s find the moments when we can exercise our superpowers. And a great link to KarmaTube for a song about superheroes.

My super vision–to see the light in dark times





23 replies
  1. Jeanne Petrick
    Jeanne Petrick says:

    Christina, that was a great positive first read of the day – thank you, thank you! “…the light in dark times.” That is where we find our joy, right, and it always makes for a better day and better decisions of acceptance when we are coming from our joy instead of our fear and hopelessness. Thanks for this wonderful read – I really felt your Superpower shine!! xxx

  2. Karyl Howard
    Karyl Howard says:

    Oh, Christina! Again, you have amazed and enlightened me! I, too, am a grandmother of two and the older one is an avid Dungeons and Dragons player. She can speak a language filled with words that I do not understand. So, I surprised her a little last week when I told her that I had learned a little about D&D and that I was a Forest Gnome Bard named Arina and I told her some of my superpowers. (Thank you to a friend who is a Dungeon Master who took the time to do some explaining…) My granddaughter’s reaction was wonderfully funny and my little class was worth every minute! I hadn’t really thought about my own “superpower” until this morning…of course, after reading your message! .I guess that it is difficult for some of us to “see” our own because we are more inclined to “see” our super-weaknesses. I have to go now to take a look at what I’m going to “leave behind” for, not only my children, but, hopefully, for the world. Thank you for your insight and your wonderful writing ability.

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Great thoughts, Karyl–so I am wondering how our weaknesses are superpowers? Like how is fear a superpower? How is grief a superpowere? And how is holy outrage a superpower? Love to Arina! CB

  3. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    Thank you Christina! I loved your story about the shopping carts. I had a similar experience along the way in my cross-country trip this summer — listening, connection, unshakeable compassion…they’re my superpowers and can be anyone’s. Love to you both+1.

  4. Diane Tilstra
    Diane Tilstra says:

    Lovely words, Christina! I will challenge my grands to imagine their own superpowers. It warms my heart to witness the world through the eyes of 4 yr olds! They believe in magic and unicorns. I will think of the word “shazam” each time I witness a loving gesture by a stranger, family or friend! Let us all concentrate on our superpowers to keep bringing light into the dark shadows. Our world is changing in so many deep ways. Shazam my dear!

  5. Meredith Jordan
    Meredith Jordan says:

    I had a long chat yesterday with the one (older male) neighbor I know to be a supporter of 45 and dismisser of BLM. We found common ground immediately, not about politics, and had a kind, mutually appreciative conversation. There is far more that connects than divides us, an understanding most of us who hang out here subscribe to. I think I would say one of my superpowers is the ability to connect across the too-many divides. There are others, but this is one Americans desperately need in our midst. At least for me, it helps me stay grounded in the awareness that we are all one family of earth.

    Big love to you, sweetie! And thank you for being you in this upside down world!


  6. Linette Harriott
    Linette Harriott says:

    I love the idea that listening, being vulnerable and open to learning can be superpowers and can create the change we want to see in the world in small and large ways.
    Thanks Christina. xx

  7. Laura Collins
    Laura Collins says:

    Amen!, or Shazam!, or perhaps Towanda! Thank you for this beautiful reflection in these turbulent times. (I wish I’d witnessed the shopping cart camaraderie; well done.) 🙏🏻 ☮️

  8. Bonnie Rae
    Bonnie Rae says:

    It is mostly because of the women I know who are empowered, conscious and more than a little bit fierce, that I am both loving and living my way into these great questions. I admit to liking the fact that the answers won’t come easy. Wendell Berry wrote “a mind that is not baffled, is not employed”. I feel this in my bones. Thank you for your powerful thoughts. 

  9. Sara Harris
    Sara Harris says:

    I have never considered having Superpowers. I have never considered the Shazam. You have opened a whole new world of inquiry , and I am very grateful, Christina!!

  10. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Christina –
    Every word of yours sings to me of power and joy, even when about heavy topics, and even a picture of your smiling face lights me up! I love this idea of personal superpowers and shazam. Thank you for this.


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