I'd like to rescue people in trouble, like Superman. - Sheridan Smith
As a child my imagination considered all the possibilities of another life, one that was far more interesting and exciting than the suburban space which seemed to somehow limit my untapped potential. Comic books were the go to narrative that introduced me to larger than life characters who performed amazing feats, rescuing damsels in distress and saving the world from the evil endeavours of our societal arch-enemies. Deep inside the psyche of all romantic idealists is a desire to make a difference and find some sense of recognition and meaning. We are all wired with the longing for significance and the need to feel important and valued in a world that is exponentially enlarging, all the while devaluing the uniqueness of our individuality.
To 'rescue another' is a basic drive of the human condition, to feel that rush of adrenaline which elevates your capacity to engage in some kind of significant transformation on someone else's behalf.
While I may never fly faster than a speeding bullet, be more powerful than a locomotive, or be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound I am still uniquely wired for some kind of remarkable impact on the world around me. Rescue cannot be about trying to fix everything and everyone or trying to create some kind of utopian society that aligns beliefs and behaviours, but rather a deeper consideration for how I can contribute to those around me with some kind of purposeful resolve.
We don’t really need super heroes we just need ordinary people to be super sensitive to the needs in front of them. If we all paid attention to the obvious around us it might just prompt a measured response of unified contribution. Humans are capable of super-human feats especially when they combine their talents in a non-competitive or combative way.
When I was a young kid I remember being rescued by a surf life saver while caught in a rip at a popular surf beach. That feeling of being hoisted out of the water by this god of the ocean gave me huge respect for those who serve the public and give their time to maintain our safety. It also embedded in me an empathy for those in distress, traumatised by uncontrollable circumstance. Maybe we never really rescue another until we have experienced it for ourselves? Perhaps then rescue might just be about letting someone else in in order to remind us that we were not meant to be doing life alone. And not to magically change our circumstances, but to give us the courage to persevere in order to find our own freedom. You cant rescue someone from themselves…this is for them to do.
Over the centuries humans have sought to create rescue strategies that would try to solve the universal mystery of evil. Religion took on the responsibility of universal salvation for all, touting itself as the answer for the dilemma of human self-destruction. We created institutions that would monitor and manage peoples rescue trajectories and in turn set in place a hierarchy of authority that would oversee the purity of our conduct so we wouldn’t displease the gods and be banished to some kind of eternal separation. We made afterlife promises that were inflated by reward schemes all the while struggling to help people live this life well. This system created a co-dependant addiction that made God our rescuer from the conundrums of life itself.
God is not my get-out-of-jail-free card, a rescuer who frees me from my humanity, but rather one who enters into my humanity in order to help me embrace the paradox that life is.
“I don’t see it as my role to save or rescue anybody any more than regular people feel the need to rescue each other from sleeping and dreaming.” ― Jed McKenna