Recently, I got into a debate with a friend about whether Superman or Batman would win in a fight. Though I’m a huge fan of both superheroes, I took Superman’s side.
I’ve loved Superman since I was a little kid. Back then, Superman was awesome because he could fly, bullets bounced off of him, and he was brave.
When I was little, I thought bravery was not being scared.
I thought Superman jumping in front of a speeding bullet and letting it bounce off of him was bravery. Now, I know that doesn’t make him brave any more than walking through the rain on a hot summer day makes me brave. Superman knows the bullets won’t hurt him. And I know rain wont’ hurt me (though it may ruin my hairdo).
Since my childhood days, I’ve learned that not fearing something doesn’t make you brave. It just means you’re not afraid.
Real bravery is being scared — terrified even — and doing what you believe is right anyway.
These days, I still think Superman is brave, but now it’s because he faces impossible odds and keeps going anyway. He routinely faces, even handles kryptonite, knowing it could kill him, so he can protect other people.
Batman too, is brave. He stands up to people who have real superpowers, and who are pretty much invincible, with nothing but technology, smarts, and training to back him up.
But I’m not going to get into the Superman vs. Batman debate here, because the real winner, I think, when it comes to fictional bravery, is in an entirely different genre.
Neville Longbottom is possibly the bravest fictional character I’ve ever encountered, simply because he is scared so often.Always anxious, always nervous, always forgetful, you start off thinking maybe he’s not meant to be in Gryffindor, house of the brave.
But at the end of the first book, Neville stands up, not to voldemort, as Harry does, but to Harry, Ron and Hermione.
That’s real courage.
As Dumbledore points out in the book, it’s hard to stand up to a group of people you don’t like and tell them you think they’re wrong.
But it’s even harder to tell your friends you think they’re doing something wrong. If you’re talking to people you don’t know, and or don’t like, you don’t much care if they don’t like you. You don’t like them anyway.
But if your friends don’t like what you’re saying, you might worry they won’t want to hang around with you anymore, and you’ll lose those friends.
Neville stood up to his friends. Later, he stands up to Death Eaters, and Voldemort himself, but it all started with one terrified little boy telling his friends to knock it off.
Neville’s not the chosen one. He doesn’t have the hero’s epic tale, epic adventures or epic romance. He’s just an average guy who did what he knew was right, even though it cost him dearly. And that, in my opinion, is true courage.
So yes, I still admire Superman. I will still happily have a friendly Superman vs. Batman debate. But really, I think Neville Longbottom is the best role model of all.