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Count the Lights

The holidays often end up being a time of Claymation specials, bright lights, spiked punch, and—of course—reflection. Yes, family can be a bit of a minefield, and there’s always that one uncle that everyone avoids like the plague. And yes, the world appears to be quite the flaming garbage fire in a lot of respects. I mean, it’s impossible to turn on the news—or log onto social media—without being met with a barrage of what happened now? Oh my god, how is this real?

From the horrific “meltdown of humanity” in Aleppo to a truck running through a Berlin Christmas market, it’s a bit of a challenge to celebrate like it’s business as usual. But it’s important to remember that not everything is dark. That, even on the longest night of the year, there is still light in the world.

And, more important, that we need to be that light.

Isn’t that why people love heroes? From the ordinary heroes (Han Solo! Batman!) to those who can fly (Storm! Thor!), there’s a fundamental truth at their core: that when it counts, people step up. When it matters, people speak out. When it is essential, someone shows extraordinary courage.

It’s why I love Supergirl. She’s smart and cheerful, but Kara Danvers kicks a lot of ass. She’s a ray of sunshine who packs a punch, who steps in front of a gun, even when she doesn’t have her powers. Kara’s strength doesn’t just come from the sun. It comes from her heart.

Take Wonder Woman as an example—a character who was literally created to fight Nazis, while wearing bracelets that I still want. She’s not a damsel-in-distress. And for a hot minute, she was a UN Ambassador. (Please don’t get me started on how asinine revoking that was.) Diana Prince was someone I looked up to as a kid, because she was fierce. And guess what? At 34, I still look up to her now. And I cannot wait to see how Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins bring her to life next Summer. Take my money. Take it now.

Supergirl and Wonder Woman are two of my favorite female heroes. For me, they are lights in the dark. And I’m reminded of a game my oldest friend and I used to play when we’d be sitting in the backseat of the car, around Christmas time. We would each count the houses with lights on our side of the street. Whoever had the biggest tally, when we got to where we were going, won.

This holiday season, I have been counting every good thing I see. Every small act of kindness, every unexpected joy, each bit of wonder I can gather. I have deliberately been paying attention to the light. It’s an important thing to do, when the world is full of chaos.

And maybe I don’t hail from Krypton or deflect bullets with my bracelets (mostly, I forget I have feet and trip walking up the stairs), but I can be kind. I can speak up when I see a wrong, when I see someone being treated unfairly for an arbitrary reason—like skin color or speaking a different language.

And you can too.

This holiday season, this Christmas, has reminded me to do good in the world. To shine a light. Because, as the saying goes, not all heroes wear capes. Some walk with a cane. Some have blue hair. Some speak a different language than you. Some use a pen as their sword. (Hey, it was good enough for Shakespeare.)

I am counting the lights, every day. But I am also making sure every light I have shines bright. Maybe, just maybe, it will be enough to chase out the dark. And the truth is, if you look in the mirror right now, you’ll see Barry Allen before he puts on his suit. You’ll find Black Widow in street clothes. Or Steve Rogers wearing a T-shirt. Chopping wood. I…sorry, where was I?

Right. You’ll find Peggy Carter, Jarvis not far behind.

We are, each of us, capable of doing good—of being heroes. It starts by choosing to do good in the world.

Let me cross all streams here and say: Avengers, get in the TARDIS. We’ve got work to do.

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