By Heather Mullinix
Looking at the top news this Monday morning, it would just break your heart.
Six people killed in a wave of tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest Sunday. The mayor of a major city admits to smoking crack — but says that his constituents should be happy because he didn't lie about it. A plane crash in Tatarstan killed 50. Anarchy in Libya. Political shenanigans at home. The list goes on and on and on.
And there, in the middle of it all, was Batkid. And for a minute, you could smile, knowing that there's hope for humanity, yet — not because of a caped crusader out seeking justice, but because of a city of people who looked outside of themselves and said, "You know what, there is something we can do to make someone else happy." And then they did it.
In case you missed this gem of a story, five-year-old Miles Scott made a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Many times, these wishes for children fighting life-threatening illnesses (Miles is in remission after battling leukemia. After that, the Riddler and Penguin were a piece of cake for this little super hero.) usually includes meeting a favorite celebrity, enjoying a dream vacation to Disneyland or other location, or there's a special gift they're wanting — like a gaming system or a computer.
And sometimes, kids want to experience what it would be like to be something, such as a fireman or rock star.
Miles wished to be Batkid and help his comic book hero Batman battle evil in Gotham City. Batkid burst from his hotel in a Batmobile, a black Lamborghini, after a special plea from police interrupted a local TV news report. San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr begged, "Please, Caped Crusader! We need you!"
Batkid and Batman rushed to save a woman who had been strapped to a bomb on a cable-car rail. Later, Batkid helped save Lou Seal, San Francisco Giants mascot, from the Penguin, one of Batman's many arch enemies. Later, the Riddler's bank robbery attempt was foiled.
For all his crime-fighting efforts, the mayor of San Francisco presented Miles the key to the city. President Obama sent a video message saying, "Way to go, Miles. Way to save Gotham!"
And all along the way, streets were lined with thousands holding signs saying "We Love Batkid," "Our Hero," and "Keep Calm and Call Batkid."
The local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, even got in on the action, producing a special Gotham City Chronicle front page last Friday, with photos and stories chronicling Batkid's adventures, calling on special correspondents Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Perry White.
"Batkid saves city" screamed the headline, with Miles' picture there above the fold — a prized placement in the newspaper world. Batkid had managed to win the hearts of an entire city, even the usually jaded, cynical and most curmudgeonly of the curmudgeons, the newspaper staff.
To see an entire city come together to give a little boy a special day makes you just feel good inside. While the city may have granted a wish, Batkid truly did save the day. He helped all those people look outside themselves and see there was something they could do to make the world a better place for someone else.
Did they change the world? No, not overnight. Bad things still happen to good people and that's not going to stop. But good people have the ability to make the world a little brighter, to make life a little easier, just by looking around and saying, "You know what? I can do something here." Even if it's nothing more than holding up a sign that says "Batkid forever."
We're entering the giving season, and as you go about your daily routine, you'll likely encounter folks seeking help with helping those who are hungry, or cold, or have other unmet needs. Christmas on the Mountain, and other organizations, are taking up donations of gifts to help brighten the holidays for children in this community. Coats for the Cold is seeking coats of all sizes to help our neighbors stay warm this season. Look outside of yourself and help brighten the day for someone else. You'll benefit more than you know.
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Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published on Tuesdays. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.