The Heroics of Weakness – page 3


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From the Spring 2018 issue of Knowing & Doing:

The Heroics of Weakness

by Aaron Welty
Co-host of the Two Geek Soup Podcast

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  Sometimes we’re asked to embrace a particular kind of foolishness, the foolishness of place, modeled by Yoda’s years of self-imposed exile on a backwater swamp planet. Last summer I traveled not to a swamp but a desert, like Luke’s home planet of Tatooine, when I spent time at the Lillian Trasher Orphanage in southern Egypt. Like Luke Skywalker on Dagobah, I wondered why I was there, parsecs outside my comfort zone. In the midst of my wondering, I encountered a two-year-old boy named Yessa, and my weakness allowed him to take a first step into a larger world.
  Yessa is both nonverbal and calcium deficient, which contributed to his inability to walk. As I watched him with my teammates, mental lightning struck, a potentially life-changing what-if: what if we put Yessa in my walker? I adjusted it and motioned for him to be brought over. With that aid, he took his first independent steps. In that moment, I realized I’d been sent halfway across the world — to a place where I felt useless — to facilitate the first footsteps of an orphaned toddler. A few days later, as I went to say good-bye, he came out wearing a Yoda shirt – despite the language barrier and no way of the staff knowing I loved the character. Did they see me — or Yessa — as characters in a grand story?
  My love for “foolish” heroes also includes a strong affinity for comic book hero Charles Xavier. He’s a wheelchair-bound professor who teaches his students — the community known as the X-Men — how to use their abilities for good and heroic ends. He leads his students as Professor X and is perceived as weak and incapable, but this weakness shrouds both incredible telepathic power and a deep understanding of the human condition and the need for hope as shown in the summer blockbuster X-Men: Days of Future Past.

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