When the Captain is no longer the Captain....
Read an article this morning. Chris Evans is wrapping up his role as Captain America aka Steve Rogers. It looks like the next Marvel film, the last half of “Infinity War”, will be Cap’s swan song.
In the first film, aptly named “The First Avenger”, Cap took on Hitler’s Evil Empire. At the end of the movie, there’s a kid leading a pack of street rats, brandishing a trash can lid with a white star in the middle of it. I had the same thing, leading our merry band of idiots into dirt clod fights against the unwashed horde of dirty, sweating neighbor kids. Epic battles of dirt clods and dust under a hot Iowa sun.
Captain America. Someone who embodied what America was all about. Heroic. Brave. Taking the lead. Doing the right thing. Never giving up.
“I can do this all day”-type of guy.
And now - he’s a guy named Steve Rogers in a unobtrusive, unexceptional dark outfit. A citizen of the world, a good fighter but no longer representing something bigger than himself. Still a nice guy with a good moral compass. Still a more-than-adequate fanny-kicker, blending seamlessly into the montage of heroic good guys. Nice beard.
But something has been lost
I took three years of first year French, two in high school and one in college, (didn’t really take to it very well), but I do remember a phrase that’s stuck with me all these decades.
Raison d’etre. “Reason to be”. The dictionaries define it as “reason or justification for existence”. “The most important reason for someone or something’s existence “.
If we lose our “reason to be”, we become - what? Or as I’ve read a few times, “If the salt loses its saltiness…it’s no longer good for anything”.
My pseudointellectual pursuit should have stopped there. I could have smugly walked away, “tsk-tsk”ing Stan Lee and crew like an armchair quarterback on a Monday morning.
If only I had left well-enough alone.
I turned to get up and saw my reflection in the window. A guy who tries to be good. A good citizen, a good employee, a good husband and dad. But I’ve been ordered to put on the armor and helmet, to take up the sword and the shield so others can see I am one of the Kings’s warriors, representing something so much bigger than myself. Him living in me. His heroism flowing past my cowardice.
Most of the time, we won’t be aware that others notice the King’s emblem on our lives. A few years back, the Wife went to a local CPA to check our tax returns. The Wife teaches little key-bangers how to crank out “Mary Had A Lamb”. She loves teaching the piano but it’s a small, part-time money maker. The CPA shot her a quizzical look.
“Why are you even reporting this?”
Before the Wife could respond, the CPA noticed the W-3 for her job as church secretary.
“Oh,” she said, “You go to that church.”
Yeah. Armor doesn’t blend in. And it may not be the most fashionable thing to wear. There will be looks and comments. Sometimes outright hatred. But there will be no doubting whose we are and who our King is - but only if we wear the helmet and shield. Just like Cap used to do.
So…to quote another great line from the Marvel Universe -