Peace and Pieces

By Mr. Jack
The word “Islam” is derived from the Arabic root word of “salema.” For those unfamiliar with this beautiful tongue, it means peace in the most general sense. Like all words, it has multiple definitions, which include purity, submission, and obedience. We hear these words in English, and we think power, we think control. This is not, however, the same thing. Submission and obedience in Arabic are more akin to the English words of humbleness and respect. In essence, the word Islam seeks to embody the ideal relationship that a person should have with god: that of reverent service and loving piety and peace.
Islam is founded on the Five Pillars of faith. Shahadah, which means to witness roughly as in the way Christians only witness one god above all others, Zakat, alms giving, Salah, which is prayer, Sawm, which is fasting to show devotion, and the Hajj, or the pilgrimage to the holy land. Together these five hallmarks embody the two ultimate beliefs in Arabic: love of god, and love of neighbor and family.
When viewed in conjunction with Christianity, which is what the majority of Americans believe in, it is quite simple to see the connections. Both share a devotion to god, a respect and honoring of neighbor, and a love of family and charity. In fact, Islam and Christianity are almost one and the same, having both gone off of the Torah with their own further interpretations. They are both Semitic in origin, and their cultures are inexorably tied together.
I point out these definitions because it is through a terrible great many traumas and issues which we as Americans have come to view the Islamic world as a world of hate, violence and control, which is rather what the Islamic world tends to also say about America. The most recent agitation of the feud concerns the actions of 19 men.
19 men. Radicals of a religion which few others would ever take to the same extremes. Vigilantes, who saw widespread injustice and sought to destroy it. Just a dozen and a half men who decided that enough was enough, and that they would make the ultimate sacrifice to prove that their faith, their countries, and their world would not be subjugated under might and power.
And then the towers fell.
And then the other radicals began to talk. Radicals of a politic which few others would ever take to the same extremes. Crusaders, who saw widespread injustice and sought to destroy it. Just a dozen and a half men who decided that enough was enough, and that they would send others to make the ultimate sacrifice to prove that their faith, their country, and their world would not be threatened by inferiors rebels and terrorists.
People forgot about the hundreds of Arab Americans who also died when the towers fell, who had come to this country peacefully with the same promise we all ultimately have. They forgot about the thousands of Muslim families in America who watched in horror as their beloved nation was attacked, and then turned on them with hate and blame. They forgot how both faiths, brothers in belief, had been born of the same love of god, man, and peace.
And suddenly, Islam meant hate. There was no understanding, no time to even think. There was only action, and anger, and pain, and suffering, and a terrible outcry about things which people could not quite define but had known to be for thousands of years. And then there was war.
Nine years after that attack we still have not healed. People of Islamic faith in America are looked down upon with derision and suspicion. Our brothers and sisters, who suffered as the Japanese Americans did in World War II for the same sort of incident, still suffer today. We look upon them as aliens, as conspirators, as terrorists. We do not recognize that they too are victims of an attack. An attack which struck their honor and the very hallmarks of all they believe. They are as us, and we are all still in pain and pieces.
And it is not right.
Today is a day of remembrance for the fallen, but it should also be a remembrance of those who still live on. We all live with a burden, of guilt, of loss, and of misunderstanding.
If we are ever to understand peace, we must understand our own hate first. We must conquer that general loathing we harbor wantonly, and realize that this was not just an attack on white, Christian America, but an attack on everything Islam stands for, everything the Arab world has tried to accomplish, and everything we have today. It was an attack on all of us.
As people who are attempting to be exemplars of society, we must not give in, no matter how deep our hate and no matter how great our pain is, to our desire to relieve that pain but dealing it out to those we feel have wronged us. The violence we deliver never heals. It will always leave a wound and always leave somebody else who then thinks they can relieve it with putting it on to something else. If we ever are to live in peace, we must bring the pieces of our wild anger into bounds. And we must love.
This day is a day of mourning. For today people still die because of that attack. People still burn books because of it. And people still cry for war because of it. Until that stops, and until we as progressing humans attempt to help our own hate and hurt end, there can never be healing.

Shadow on the Sun

I have had a hard time as of late. It could just be me, but I see stagnation in our community. This could just be a break in the constant drama we usually are consumed in, but I just feel like things are sagging. Maybe this is the summer feel, maybe it is something else.
I just feel hard to be motivated at this point. Down on my spirits if you will. I am working to get the rally organized and trying to do meetups, but there is just this burning itch that says it is not enough, that urges me to go on forward. But I do not feel it.
With the advent of the new Heroes Network comes and opportunity to build. There has been a tremendous amount of influx and reorganizing on as well, but despite this I still just feel that at this point, we have hit a level.
It is a time of regrouping, reorganization, and, in a lot of ways, rest. Many RLSH have retired from public eye, and the private organizations among us are coalescing in their own hidden ways. Meets are being organized, things are on the verge of occurring, but as of right now, I see very little actually happening.
This could just be my interpretation, but I believe that we are seeing a new growth in the way our wacky world works.
In the beginning days, we saw individuals all arising to the same idea: dress up, go out, and help people. With the information age fueling connectivity between people it was not long before we saw groups form. Small, private, and hard working, these groups set the tone and bars of expectation.
It was not long before these small groups gave way to larger groups, and all the drama and fragmentation we have seen from their formation. We saw things go two ways: private and public. One side embraced the idea of individuals, the other of community. Both brought different things to the table, but the fall of these two systems is once again imminent. Why is this so?
We are going mainstream.
Deny it all you want, but interest in whatever the hell you call what we do has risen to popular status. With the exposure brought on by the Mr. Tangen’s project, movies, ads, and general interest by the media, we are now stepping out of the shadows into a greater one: that of the public. alone has seen a tremendous boom in users, and many are staying and contributing. Other sites are springing up, and as I have said before we are all starting new projects and paths it seems. We are at a new age of public involvement with what we do, or at least dangerously close to the cusp of such.
I do not state any opinion with this. This is merely the marking of a growth our lives. It is important to note things, and I believe that if anyone else feels this same stagnate quiet of reorder and growth that I do, then we are at a very interesting time indeed, my friends.
I will post tomorrow about summer patrols. In the meantime, reflect on where we are. As the old saying goes, you have to know where you have been to know where you are going.
Stay frosty.
Written by Mr. Jack
Original Content –

Masked Humility

Originally posted:
By Mr. Jack
The mask does not make you, you make the mask.
Sometimes in our little community of costumed crazies we sometimes come to think that we deserve more attention and respect than we actually deserve. Let us be very clear: you are a person who is dressing up in homage to fictional cartoon superheroes who goes out and attempts the delusional, yes delusional, fantasy of helping and fixing the world’s problem dressed as such. This is what we do. Nothing more, nothing less. Some of us do it better than others, some of us worse. Some of us actually were born to do it, while some are born to destroy what others have created. In the end, however, we all do this same one thing.
Sometimes, however, caught up in our great delusional fantasy we become arrogant, and desire more value of our person than is worth others. And the issue here is desire. Desire poisons that which you try to purify. Have any of it in your life, and it seeps into the vessels of your actions and ruins them.
For those of us with “secret identities” this desire is actually a great temptress, because while great things can be done by anonymous people in masks no one will actually care that you did it. Secrecy is a great tool in our trade, and can be employed and exploited. It helps us to be confident, keeps us out of many troubles, separates a life we wish others to not be involved with. But with secrecy we may also desire the possibility of power. Since no one knows you, you can act as you wish, do as you please, and belittle whomever you desire in your great quest for the greater good.
This is wrong. Again, the whole desire thing eventually ends up corrupting every aspect of your intentions until none are left. But there are times when we are so tempted to reveal, so questioned by everyone around you for your worth and responsibility that you may want to just drop the facade and admit what you do.
The offer is tempting, and the dramatic reveal of it all can be quite exhilarating. It is one of the greatest “up yours.” Someone gets into a fight with you about your lack exhibiting anything beyond normal functions, and you have that ace up your sleeve that you know will garner everyone’s awe and admiration.
But it is not worth it. If you have chosen to keep your identity secret it is probably for a very good reason, and things done in the moment with such brashness never turn out well. Besides, if you really need your work as a great big Real Life Super Hero to speak for your entire character, then you obviously have a long way to go to fulfilling yourself as a person. Deluded we may be, but help is what we do. And the absolute first person you must always seek to help is yourself. Not at anyone’s expense, not for petty desires, but because you want and know you can achieve that “something more” you may dream of.
If you are only noble and great while in the mask of anonymity then you are a fraud, plain and simple. The point of a secret identity should be to experiment and push yourself to new levels. Take the opportunity of being anonymous to really try and be kind. After all, you are not you. You have a blank slate when as an anonymous pseudonym with a mask and spandex. Take the chance to explore what you could be a little, and then take those things that your learn and try putting them in every facet of your life.
Getting back to the humility we all should carry, I would like to put forth a list of tips and things that all RLSH should follow when out working in order to help them stay within the reality of our fantasy, and to keep ourselves humble and others accepting of our cause.
Mr. Jack’s Masked Manners
-Always address police officers as “Sir” or “Ma’am.” Respect their authority! Show your fellow helpers (including firemen, doctors, technicians, etc.) your sense of respect for their jobs and you will get respect for yours most often. It is not a one hundred percent thing though, but it does help always in the long run.
-Greet people on the street. When out on patrol, say hi to everyone you meet. Make eye contact, smile, and tell them hello or good day. The power of such a simple gesture like a smile or a wave is one that can change worlds. If people see such a friendly figure dressed up, they begin to question their own masks that they wear. Win over your public not for personal desire for fame or the like, but because it will help you get your message across better and be able to help people and open new doors to love.
-Always maintain composure. A lot of things happen when you are out in full gear, and most of them revolve around people trying to put you down or try and break your focus and composure. Part of being on your guard revolves around not allowing things to get under your skin. When I was with Silver Sentinel, Zetaman, Dark Guardian, Meow, Hunter and Tothian in New York one of the biggest things I admired about all of them was how great they were at just letting things roll off their armor. Silver Sentinel is a great example, as he often plays into what people say. Remember “If you are going to tell someone the truth, you’d better make them laugh. Otherwise they’ll kill you.
-The customer is always right. In all honesty of you are doing your job right then you are basically the equivalent of a service employee, and as such, you must cater to the customer. I cannot specifically give an example for this because there are so many. If someone wants something, you have to do your best of fulfill it because that is the standard which needs to be held. By all means do what is right, but make it seem like it was the customer’s idea. Charisma helps.
-Right is right only when it is nice. Yes people need wake up calls. Yes, people need help to get off the street and be warned about the dangers that fill their life. But think about this for a moment: if you had some guy off the street come up to you and start lecturing you on errors of your way and the virtues of living right would you really instinctively give him your time and listen? Now add in that that guy is dressed in spandex and a cape and calls himself Justice Avenger Supreme. You now see the absurdity of it. Yes, our mandate is to help, but for gods’ sakes do not be belligerent and in people’s faces unless there is no other way. Rude and noisy should always be a last resort to the virtues of gentle, kind care.
-Hold yourself to the standards you seek of others. If you have unrealistic expectations then you are doomed to fail. In other words, if you think that you can go out and stop crime when you are publicly intoxicated or driving like a maniac or carrying lethal weapons without a permit then you are now the problem others have to help. Lead by example and you will most likely not be questioned for your worth of actions.
-Finally, and this is a small but big thing, look in a mirror when you are dressed up. Yes, it is nice to admire how awesome you look, but this is not my intention for this specific manner. Look in the mirror to see what others will see of you. If you cannot look in the mirror and trust the image you see then neither can anyone else. Appearance is one of the most paramount aspects we should worry about in our community, not again for personal gain, but to be symbols. We wear what we wear to draw attention, to inspire, to help. If you cannot trust who you see in the mirror, change it in some way to make it so you can.
Awareness Challenge 2: Think Before You Act
I mean this for every part of your life. Before you take an action, just take a nanosecond and think about what you mean by it, what it will actually do, and how it will be perceived. This sort of thought checking is difficult to maintain for a long time, but with practice it can become second nature. By just slowing down your thought process to “proofread” your action before it happens, you can determine a better course of action for it, which may indeed be the one you had already set. But never underestimate the power of such thought. It may be the difference between you making peace between two people or throwing the first punch. The choice, as always, is yours.