A Super Man is…


In the realm of civil liberties, a revelation in the past week showed that Lord Acton was right, absolute power corrupts absolutely. After listening to Edward Snowden’s interview, I got the impression that those who act in our best interests are overtly aware that their actions are in contravention of Fourth Amendment guarantees and ultimately “wrong.” Protocol however, dictates that one ought to remain silent and continue to do as one’s told.

I must admit that my initial reaction was one of indignation that every text, tweet, call, wink and RSS feed was recorded and stored without my knowledge and consent. I contend that authoritative structures of power are not self-justifying and a free man does not live by the philosophy that if you are not engaging in wrong doing you have nothing to worry about. As I watched the Greenwald interview again, I had an epiphany. Initially I planned to write from the standpoint of infringement of rights and a blatant violation of the specificity requirements of the 4th. Amendment. But, I opt for something other than a diatribe that will probably be conducted and written about by more astute legal minds.

Snowden’s disclosure is not a negative thing after all. Yes we are being illegally spied upon, but there is a silver lining. These events can be construed as a sign that humanity possesses the ability to triumph over the conscience-less, rogue element among us that seeks establishment of an Orwellian state and to ultimately subjugate the poor to a neo-serfdom.  Mr. Snowden, much like Bradley Manning and the other whistle-blowers, could have continued in the same vein as his peers, but was touched by the Spirit of Justice. An inner moral compass if you will, that aspires to some higher ideal other than mere financial remuneration and superior title designation. Neo-Platonist philosophers often spoke of the higher sense of good that was innate to all men. This inherent principle of perfectibility is what distinguishes man from the higher order primates and other predatory mammalian species.

When chimpanzees raid another troop, the young of the vanquished males are eaten. When lions stalk antelopes, the weak and feeble are the target of the hunt. A remarkable evolutionary quirk has bestowed upon humanity a capacity for rationality and a penchance for morality. When not impacted by pathology, killing of the innocent and weak are repugnant to the sensibilities of the majority. Prior to the indiscriminate bombing of civilians in the 20th Century, there are examples throughout history to show that conquerors often granted quarter to children and kept the women as chattel. I am sure even the most brainwashed soldier would find it difficult to indiscriminately fire upon a 6 year old child. While this may have not been the initial inclination of our knuckle-dragging ancestors, it is a quality that has evolved as we have evolved.

This moral tendency is etched upon the scaffold of rationality, and when not warped by cultural cues, allows for one to strive for the betterment of mankind. It precludes preying upon the innocent, weak and elderly. Moreover, it is grounded in truth and justice. Actions that run afoul of these precepts often instill reactions of anger and disgust when they enter our field of conscious awareness. We would rather set 1000 guilty men free than imprison one innocent man (Pentagon excluded). We are charitable and pass laws to protect the weakest among us.  Somewhere during the socialization process however, some opt to relegate this moral compass to an inferior capacity and embrace instead an exaltation of ego.

Plato’s tripartite construction of the soul places rationality and truth as the highest aspirations of man. From this perspective, Edward Snowden, John Kiriakou and Bradley Manning’s actions can certainly be construed as “Super.” Here were men who innately knew that the orders issued from above were manifestly wrong and could not be reconciled with their inner moral compasses.  They sought to reveal the truth of governmental actions before the court of public discourse. Adrian Lamo’s testimony during the Manning trial indicated that Mr. Manning was horrified at the callous attitude of his comrades regarding the death of innocent people. Furthermore, he possessed an awareness that justice demanded bringing the illegal actions and directives into the light.

Our cultural cues dictate that in order to be “super” we ought to possess Herculean strength, extra-sensory abilities and flight capability. In this blogger’s reality tunnel however, the Ubermensch is ordinary. His or her actions seek congruence with some higher octave of morality and justice that underpins his or her own. Some ultimate truth dictated by a bearded gentleman in the sky is not necessary for reconciliation of one’s actions. After all, can primates emitting small mouth noises really speak of ultimate truth? Oh Prometheus, you tricky bastard.  All we have are language constructs that are used to elucidate abstractions. The noumenon is beyond our comprehension and perceived phenomena are merely a derivative. Ergo, one can be a “Superman” merely by striving for the higher good of which one is intimately aware.

However, the Superman is only entitled to such a moniker when merciful, just and kind. He or she transcends the limits of form when embracing truth and acting with compassion towards his fellow men.  We are all super when we help someone who is in need. We are all super when we refuse to buy products manufactured by mothers forced into slave like conditions. We are all super when we offer food to the hungry and shelter to the homeless. And for those who pilot the winged instrumentalities of death and rain down the power of stars upon the helpless, you are super when you choose not to pull the trigger or engage the firing sequence. Be supermen the next time you encounter a homeless person, offer him or her a meal. Similarly, when ordered to conceal the harmful side-effects of a drug scheduled for release or circumvent the public interest for pecuniary gain, take a stand. Take not the attitude that I must secure my own interests before I can assist a person in need or speak out about a potential miscarriage of justice.

If “I” is in fact just a point of positional reference as wisdom from antiquity suggests, then by feeding another, I am essentially helping myself. For my red-state brethren who believe that King James manifested the Logos and claim that the Lord only helps those who help themselves, is it not also written in your law, what you do unto the least of my brethren you do unto me? Life happens sometimes and it is nothing short of super to act justly or help those in need. Aspire to the higher order of good as the spirit of justice resides with us all; all we need do is listen.

One love,


P.S. I found it rather interesting that the very defenders of the NSA’s blanket surveillance were willing to argue that it was no invasion of privacy yet viewed a background check or registration of a firearm purchase as a threat to the very fabric of liberty. Cognitive dissonance anyone?


About H3nry J3kyll
Vincit omnia veritas (using an obscure Latin heraldry motto makes one seem kinda learned and distinguished).

5 Responses to A Super Man is…

  1. skywanderer says:

    Fascinating – thank you so much! This outstanding article leaves me speechless for too many reasons to explain now – to demonstrate why I would like to refer to a link to my post on the topic (also to the related posts listed at the end):

    The demo version of ‘kratos’: land of the freak, home of the grave

    • Henry Jekyll says:

      I am happy that the overall tenor of the article resonated with you Skywanderer. Unfettered idealism is not a quality that is shared by many in this cynical age. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the subject. Thank you for commenting and referring the link.

      • skywanderer says:

        I thank you, Henry. Indeed your post – and all that I have read from you so far – do resonate with me even after one glance – then I have to reread them several times to explore all dimensions of your so exquisitely laid out thoughts.

        I can’t help highlighting this part of the post:
        “He or she transcends the limits of form when embracing truth and acting with compassion towards his fellow men. We are all super when we help someone who is in need….”

        The above, and your writing in general, reminds me of this Wittgenstein quote:
        “Don’t get involved in partial problems, but always take flight to where there is a free view over the whole single great problem.”

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    yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me.
    In my view, if all site owners and bloggers made
    good content as you did, the internet will be much
    more useful than ever before.

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