If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
I’ve been considering this since I listened to “Superpowers,” an episode of This American Life in which John Hodgman conducts an informal survey asking “Which is better: The power of flight or the power of invisibility?”
Why people chose one over the other wasn’t nearly as interesting to me as the fact that hardly anyone cared about using their chosen superpower to make the world a better place. I was stunned to hear one woman confess if she could be invisible, she would steal as many cashmere sweaters as she wanted! I muttered at my radio: “My dear, you have a superpower! Sweaters? Really?” But when one interviewee said he’d like to fly from one appointment to another and then have time to speed through the air to Atlantic City, I realized I could be selfishly tempted by flight.
When I read “Black Angel” by Walidah Imarisha in the new book Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, I realized the puniness of my imagination about superpowers. The main character in this story is an angel who stops villains and rescues victims – as superheroes are wont to do. But she goes further: she sings the villains back to a state of original blessing and goodness with her power to “change hearts” and “sing humans clean.” Her singing is so serene and beautiful, it draws out what is best even in ruthless bullies.
Imagine that! Imagine having the power to sing someone back to wholeness. Imagine wanting to do that for the Jokers and Lex Luthers. Imagine music as a healing force given as a gift even to the “bad guys.”
Then I realized that not only had Walidah Imarisha named an awesome superpower, she was exhibiting the superpower of her imagination. In her introduction to Octavia’s Brood, she writes:
…decolonization of the imagination is the most dangerous and subversive form there is: for it is where all other forms of decolonization are born. Once the imagination is unshackled, liberation is limitless.
We have all been gifted with imagination. It is a human superpower. It has the capacity to heal, transform and liberate. Let’s use it! A super lot.
Photo by: Bebeto Matthews