We’re watching the series Heroes on DVD, knowing from experience that science fiction for some reason crosses over well from child to teen to adult, and hoping this will help bring the Captain into a place he has something to discuss with his peers. The whole family has really gotten into it, as we draw to a close of the first season, and get ready to rent the truncated second before the series begins again in late September.
The show is reminiscent of The 4400, one of the few shows we’ve watched in recent years (so of course it was canceled), in that ordinary people are suddenly gifted with extraordinary powers, and must come to grips with those and the implications of their subsequent actions. We also enjoyed The Last Mimzy, the story of a couple of children who find an artifact from the future and are thereby given certain abilities to be able to save a world.
What has always puzzled the Cabana Boy and me in these tales is the horror that parents/adults display when confronted with the fact that their offspring/friend can now stop time, or light fires with his fingertip, or build marvelous engineering feats of creation. The reaction is almost uniformly, “Stop that! Don’t be different!”
Overall, we agreed immediately that if someone we knew, child or adult, came to us and said, “Guess what! I can read minds!” Or “I have telekinesis!” or “I can see all the way to the Moon!” we would be astonished and in awe, rather than condemning them. It would be fun to explore the possibilities of their power, learn the extent of what they could do, and when it needed to be controlled, at least to my mind. But then we both grew up steeped in the traditions of science fiction, so we’re used to strange things.
The other lesson it shows is that what’s valuable is often not distinguishable at the outset and is usually discounted or even pushed away by the mainstream if it’s not in a form they want to accept. The Japanese character Hiro Nakamura is a perfect example of this. He’s convinced he’s been chosen to save the world. He leaves his job, deserts his family, leaves everything behind to follow his determination/ obsession/ perseveration to complete this mission. He’s not shy about telling people what he’s up to, and they look at him as odd, even crazy. But he knows there’s something inside him that will get him where he needs to go, if he follows the steps of the hero’s journey.
Maybe it’s the same journey as our kids with autism. They have special gifts–hold the firestarting, please, at least for our impulsive boys!– they have odd methods, they live outside the box; people think they’re crazy, sometimes. Only when those gifts are fully developed will we be able to see how they can –dare we say it? Save the world? Let’s hope so.