“A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy’s shoulder to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.” – Batman (Christian Bale), The Dark Knight Rises
“Who is Batman?”
Well, this question – asked repeatedly by his nemeses for over 80 years – is a complex one. Batman is a (fictional) character, with the man Bruce Wayne playing the part. It is that latter person’s life events that really begin to sketch-in the finer details of who Batman is, and more.
Bruce Wayne is just a young boy – around 8 years old – when he witnesses his parents murdered outside of a movie theatre. The murder of Bruce’s parents was, and remains, the defining moment of his human life and that of his alter-ego. In fact, young Bruce is so deeply wounded by seeing his parents killed, that he eventually makes the commitment to fight injustice wherever it may present itself.
After years of travelling the globe, in which he painstakingly sculpts his mind and body, Bruce Wayne eventually finds his way back to Gotham City – home to a vast criminal underworld and myriad other shady characters.
Using his vast wealth, provided by his father’s successful business ventures, Wayne begins to design and construct Batman’s crime-fighting arsenal. Wayne’s genius-level intellect, nearly-limitless resources, and savvy crime-fighting skills molds that character that is Batman.
The character Batman is truly transcendent, in that he is considered a hero by adults and children alike. Perhaps the most appealing thing about Batman is that he has no superpowers – he is fully-human. As such, he – perhaps more than any other ‘superhero’ – is the most relatable.
One needn’t be a Batman fanatic to appreciate the tenets by which he lives. His mission, in its broadest sense, is to promote good and leave the world a better place.
Here are 5 life lessons to learn from Batman
1. Devote Yourself to an Ideal
To protect his identity and those of whom he cares for, Bruce Wayne often exudes a certain type of arrogance and brashness. Of course, the man himself is not any of these things; in fact, it’s very difficult to find fault in his true character.
Financially, Wayne donates vast amounts of money to a number of philanthropic causes: foster homes, homeless shelters, hospitals, and a number of other institutions. Personally, despite the (often numerous) imperfections of those he encounters, he almost always attempts to impart a sense of dignity and respect – even if such efforts are in vein.
It goes without saying, but he is fully devoted to his crime-fighting activities. But there is certainly more to the character than beating down bad guys.
The lesson: find something you’re passionate about in the arena of service. In other words, devote yourself to something that is bigger than any one person.
2. Defend Those Who Can’t (or Won’t) Defend Themselves
Batman’s primary goal in life is to prevent injustice wherever it should present itself – to protect the innocent. He has fought off thieves, murderers, kidnappers and the like, countless times. Batman does these things because he himself understands the extreme pain and damage such things can do to its victims.
There are even instances of Batman saving the lives of criminals. Despite being a prolific crime-fighter, Batman does not kill under any circumstance. Of course, he is not always successful in saving and/or bettering the lives of people he encounters, but he makes every attempt to do so.
The lesson: firstly, to always assert yourself, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Second, after you develop the capability of assertion, be willing to stand up for others who may not know how.
3. Use the Right Mix of Fairness, Toughness and Compassion
Make no mistake: Batman is a physically-imposing, tough character. His altercations with criminals often leaves them lying unconscious with broken bones – along with a deep sense of regret for having tangled with him. While he may not kill, he doesn’t shy away from using his violent capabilities when they become necessary.
On the flip side, Batman is a deeply-compassionate character. It has already been mentioned that he, as Bruce Wayne, gives away sizeable amounts of his fortune. As a studied criminologist, Batman strongly believes in criminal rehabilitation, as opposed to repeating the cycle of beat-down, restrain, detain and repeat.
Another interesting thing about Batman’s character is that he doesn’t give up on people – even those that have caused him harm. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the “Dark Knight” believes strongly in the value of human rights, no matter the person’s past.
The lesson: in addition to being able to stand your ground, exhibit the traits of fairness and compassion whenever possible. Believe in the good of people, and encourage the advancement of the disenfranchised or downtrodden.