Since I was a kid, I’ve always been attracted to the idea of superheroes and none more so than Batman. Not only was he obscenely wealthy in his real life, but as a superhero, he didn’t have an alien heritage, magic or mutant powers to rely on. Even in the face of superhuman villains, he used his tactical wit and technological know-how to beat his foes. Plus, he modeled himself after an animal associated with drawing blood — how cool is that!
Beyond crime fighting, though, Batman (and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne) can teach us a lot. Here are a few examples of what we can all learn from Batman:
1. Stay cool under pressure.
One of Batman’s notable qualities is his imperturbable cool. Even in the face of fear-inducing scarecrows and mad clowns, he is able to exude an aura of eerie calm, maintaining his wits while navigating the treacherous streets of Gotham. What we can take away from Batman’s cool is how important attitude is, especially when confronted with unexpected and disorienting challenges and when dealing with difficult, or even hostile, people. Projecting an air of calm confidence will make any situation easier to handle. If Batman can keep his head while storming Arkham Asylum, you can weather a crabby coworker or broken copier with ease.
2. Be resourceful.
Bruce Wayne has a lot of resources, thanks to his size-able fortune, thus Batman is well equipped for virtually any situation. As the recent film shows, even without his trademark suit and gadgets, Batman is still ingenious and calculating, still capable of devising plans to escape pit-prisons and save Gotham from a nuclear explosion. The point is to maximize what’s around you, whether that be people offering their help and expertise or tools that you might not have thought useful for the task or problem at hand.
3. There are consequences to lying.
The recent film also teaches us the consequences of lying, through the case of what really happened to Harvey Dent and what that meant for Gotham. At one point in the film, Batman asks Commissioner Gordon whether lying to the public really helped Gotham. This ambiguous situation not only proves that Batman is fallible but that actions have consequences even if your goals are noble. Batman lied to protect the integrity of Gotham’s justice system, but in doing so, he helped mask the rot that was still festering within.
4. Money isn’t everything.
Bruce Wayne values love and family more than his personal wealth. The image people have of him as a frivolous playboy is one he consciously engineered to make his role as Batman seem less plausible. Bruce displays his love for Alfred and Lucius Fox frequently in the recent films, as well as his devotion to his love, Rachel Dawes. One might argue that Bruce loves the people of Gotham and that love is why he feels indebted to protect it, both publicly, by using his wealth to bolster the city, and privately, as Batman. He is a case study on how money can be used as a tool instead of a goal.
5. Sacrifice is key to survival.
Batman is a hero, but one with a tragic story of loss and suffering. Some of that suffering has come from the sacrifices he has made to protect Gotham and the people he loves. The most vivid example of this is when he saved Harvey Dent at the expense of his childhood love, Rachel Dawes. He knew saving Dent and sacrificing Rachel would help keep Gotham’s spirit intact. He even sacrificed his role as the city’s hero when Dent went crazy in order to put the blame on himself, protecting Gotham’s spirit yet again. Sometimes you have to do things that cause you strife to achieve a greater goal or to protect others.
Joshua John currently works in community relations for the University of Southern California’s Virtual Master of Social Work program, which provides social workers the opportunity to earn an online social work degree and apply for a social work license. He also loves gadgets, movies, and all things Batman. Follow him on twitter: @joshuavjohn
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