Almost nobody remembers his or her life at two years old. Fleeting pictures may come to us in glimpses, but we are pretty much at the mercy of the stories of our loved ones to embrace our early chronology. It’s because of this that a little boy named Miles Scott has never known anything besides being sick with cancer. Before he turned two years old, Miles was diagnosed with Leukemia, and he’s been battling it ever since. Some of his earliest memories probably take place in hospitals, with doctors and nurses poking and prodding, all the while toiling away at what can be an incessant amount of waiting around with nothing to do while your body is infused with the poison that makes you sick while making you better.
It is in these long and sometimes lonely times where Miles may have fallen in love with the one Superhero that subconsciously spoke to him: Batman. The Dark Knight. The one who, underneath the mask and the cape, was just what he said he was…a man. And Batman is not just a man…he’s a broken figure, filled with pain and anguish, and yet somehow determined to right the wrongs of Gotham City. Simply, he wants to make the world a better place.
Make no mistake…children who have cancer know exactly what they are going through, sometimes more than adults. Children are stronger than most when it comes to fighting cancer. I can’t even begin to tell you all of the stories I’ve seen and heard this year alone about kids like Hannah and MacKenzie, two little girls that have gone through more than any adult would ever be able to burden or stomach. And they still continue to teach so many people on a daily basis…Hannah from right here…MacKenzie from above.
And children fight for much different reasons than most of us do. When you are an adult battling cancer, you have to look for motivations to keep you going, like surviving for a loved one or the anger at something trying to take you out. When you are a kid battling cancer, motivation is simpler. In short, you want to live for the pure joy of actually being here. Children tend to see the smaller things and appreciate them more than most adults, and when we adults figure that out, cancer actually becomes easier. Children inherently know that it’s the little things that get you through the big things. Adults…meh.
I’m not exactly sure when Miles saw Batman for the first time, but the Caped Crusader’s message resonated with this young boy so much that when asked by the Make-A-Wish Foundation what his wish would be, it was simple: “I want to be Batman.”
I recently read an article about how the United States has turned into an angry nation. A survey concluded that a whopping 60% of us would describe ourselves as angry or irritable. Three out of five. I have always said that negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity, and it really brought me down to hear that the majority of Americans are cranky at best.
Of course, when you turn on the television and you see actors screaming at reporters, or strangers trying to knock random victims out on the street, or your own government looking as incompetent as ever no matter what side of the aisle you fall, or an economy that is still struggling, or someone else you admire becoming the latest victim of cancer, or…
…well, you get the point.
But not Miles Scott. Here’s a kid that tuned all of it out, including his own private hell, to do the one thing that really happy people do with their lives: he wanted to save the world.
And it is simply amazing what happens when a beacon shines brightly: we look, and listen, and engage. Miles’ wish to be Batman was unlike anything I can remember seeing…ever. Over fifteen thousand people in the San Francisco area volunteered to help turn this kid’s wish into something far beyond reality. In fact, the surreal nature of so many people doing so much good at the same time flipped a switch in many of us.
Here was this little boy in a Batkid costume, riding shotgun with Batman in a Batmobile, saving damsels in distress from the evil clutches of the Riddler. People were live-tweeting it. Even President Obama sent him good wishes via video. For the first time in a long time, Christians and atheists and Republicans and Democrats and Black and Whites and Asians and Hispanics and young and old stood up with, and stood up for, a common cause: a little superhero with cancer.
And at the end of this magical few hours when the world kinda stopped, when Batkid morphed back into Miles Scott, mild-mannered boy with his leukemia in remission, they asked him what his favorite part of the entire experience was.
“Saving the world.”
Well congratulations, Miles…you did it. You saved us all, even if only for the few minutes it took to read what transpired on Friday, November 15, 2013. My hope is that more Batkids and Batmen and Batwomen come to our rescue. Maybe if enough of them try to save the world, it will inspire the rest of us to do the same.