How do we answer the Superman question? What is the Superman question? And, is everything I know about Superman wrong?
I loved the Superman comic as a child growing up in the 50's and 60's. He was the Man of Steel, born on the planet Krypton as the baby Kal-El. His parents, Jor-El and Lara, put Kal-El into a rocketship, wrapped in a blanket, as the planet Krypton exploded. The rocketship survived and eventually made it to Earth, where it was found by an elderly Iowa farm couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent of Smallville.
Never having had children, they took baby Kal-El, renamed him Clark Kent, and raised him. And then, both adoptive parents died of old age as Clark approached adulthood and he finally left Smallville for Metropolis and his secret identify career as a newspaper reporter.
I can recite this origin story in my sleep.
If you think about it, Kal-El, because he was born on a different planet, was an alien. He came here without papers, so he was illegal. So, what should the United States do with him?
That question is what Pulitzer Prize author Junot Diaz calls "The Superman Question": and maybe, if you are an American, you think you know the answer.
But not so fast. First: was Superman really born on Krypton?
I know that Superman's origin story has changed through the years. What I didn't know is how much it has changed since I was a little girl. Apparently, one of the origin stories mentions a "birthing matrix" set up by the Kryptonians, so Kal-El (not sure exactly how) was actually born on Earth.
What about his adoptive parents? Well, in more modern versions, they were young when they found baby Kal-El and they live into Clark's adulthood. So many other parts of the "Superman origin" I grew up with have been changed...again and again and again.
So, what about The Superman Question? It's a good question, as our country struggles with the questions surrounding what some caled undocumented workers, and others call illegal aliens? And, especially, what of those who came her as children and were never told of their undocumented/illegal status, until they accidentally find out when applying for a drivers license or a college scholarship?
What lesson does Superman teach? I think he teaches us two lessons:
First: the lesson that sometimes things aren't what they seem.
Second: sometimes, everything you know is wrong. Truth can be like shifting sands - sometimes, it's just hard to find the real truth.
Do you have a cherished childhood belief or story that you've found has changed over the years?