professorxDrKing2

Happy Xavier Day, everyone.

Xavier day is a holiday established and held by the students and faculty of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning in memory of Professor Charles Francis Xavier.

Though his age is nebulous at best due to “Marvel Time” and the ability of any writer to override another, in real world terms, Professor X was just over forty-nine years old when he died last September.

Professor X’s influence on the world, even our world, through the creation of his X-Men is surprisingly far-reaching. For nearly half a century Xavier’s dream of peaceful coexistence has served as an inspiration to countless young people, real and fictional. Though he wasn’t always perfect, Professor X and his school were there for anyone who felt outcast or alone and his message has often been a surprisingly vital lifeline for real people who are struggling.

This week also marks the 50th anniversary of another dream of tolerance, that of the Reverend Martin Luther King. In the fifty years that separate us from a world of segregation and X-Men #1s, there’s been a lot of change, but it’s less than we might think, for better or worse.

Though most of us take the equality of races for granted, we have not yet found the means by which to provide equal opportunity for all. Though the price and intended age of a comic book have skyrocketed, we find many of the same heroes gracing the pages of our beloved hobby. And though divisions between social classes widen and our views of education change, the core ideals of how to facilitate intellectual growth and innovating thinking remain largely the same: read, dream, imagine, work.

On this day, take a moment to get outside yourself. Take a trip to the astral plane. Consider the struggles that you do not expect to face. Reach out to someone. Volunteer to help the homeless, the oppressed, or the underprivileged. Just read, if that’s what suits you, but try to leave yourself behind.

Though it’s hardly the most you can do, in the simple act of opening a comic book, you take a small step towards Charles’ Xavier’s dream. Every time you exercise your capacity for empathy, for critical thought, for seeing what could be rather than what is, you crack open the doors of change.

Some of you will roll your eyes or call this melodrama, but I assure you that it is not. Comics, science-fiction, and their ilk have long been disregarded as shallow entertainments, but Dr. King saw their value when he begged Nichelle Nichols not to leave Star Trek. To Dr. King Lt. Uhura represented a very real step towards his dream. When we allow ourselves to entertain the impossible, we question and reshape reality. That ability is no small thing and it is one of the most powerful tools that we have to affect change.

It doesn’t do anything on its own, but today I encourage you to take that first step and entertain that radical notion that how a human being is born does not decide its destiny, that we all should judge and be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character.

Charles Xavier may not have existed the way that you or I do, but clearly that’s no impediment to the reality and the force of his dream. Whether you connect to the story of another living being, crack open some speculative fiction, or remember the fight that’s allowed you this world with a book like March, take a moment today to validate the dreams of Professor X, Dr. King, and so many countless others.

Advertisements