Why the World Needs Superman
"And now, we proudly present the winner of this year's Pulitzer Prize - the most prestigious award in journalism - Miss Lois Lane!"
Lois stood up to the sound of applause. She stepped toward the stage, clutching the note cards like a lifeline. She smiled graciously, hugged the presenters and took the award in one shaking hand. She stood at the podium, gazing out at the lights that obscured most of the audience. The few people she could see were still applauding and smiling at her.
"Thank you," she said. The crowd hushed, waiting for her acceptance speech. "Thank you very much." Lois set the award on the podium and stacked her notecards in front of her. "I'd like to thank several people. Without their support, this award wouldn't have been possible. Richard, my fiance, and my son Jason." She looked toward were she knew they were sitting. "I love you both, and I thank you for putting up with all the overtime this job comes with. I know you must be sick to death of take-out." The audienced laughed as they were supposed to.
"I'd also like to thank Perry White, editor in chief of the 'Daily Planet'. Your support means the world to me, Perry. Sometimes we butt heads, but you always stand by me when it counts. And of course, to all our readers, thank you. Without you, I wouldn't be standing here today. But..." Lois cleared her throat and rubbed her sweaty hands on the podium. "But I can't accept this award." There were murmurs from the audience, and Lois wondered if she could go through with it. She straightened, determined, and looked out at the waiting crowd.
"I can't accept an award for an article that I no longer believe in. A year ago, I wrote an article called 'Why the World Doesn't Need Superman'. During the years without Superman, I felt abandoned. Hurt. Betrayed. To a certain extent, I think we all did. I wrote an article describing a world where the presence of a super-human savior brought more harm to us than good. I described a world where Superman taught us dependence, fear and to place our trust in beings that didn't deserve it. I described a world that would have been better off if Superman had never shown his face.
"Now..." Lois' voice cracked, and she swallowed. "Now, I know the truth. Superman didn't take away our independence. Superman didn't take away our ability to help ourselves. Superman did just the opposite. He taught us how to care, how to help each other. He taught us what it means to be good people.
Superman is an alien. He looks a lot like us, but he is an immigrant from a planet galaxies away. Even though he has no real reason to care what happens to us, he goes out of his way to save lives every day. Superman could have used his amazing powers to ravage our cities, terrorize our people, and take over our most powerful governments. Instead, he pushes back floods, puts out fires, and stops airplanes from crashing in a blaze of searing death.
"Like the greatest philanthropic leaders of our past - Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Cesar Chavez - Superman teaches us how to be better human beings by example. Superman doesn't ask to be paid after pulling you from a burning building. He doesn't blast you with his eyes if you're so stunned that you forget to thank him when he plucks your child from a raging river. He just smiles and goes to help the next struggling member of a foreign species in a foreign world. Superman has made Earth his home, and he does everything he can to help every one of us, regardless of race, creed, gender, politics or class.
"More than a man of steel, Superman is a bastion of honesty, honor and courage. He is always willing to sacrifice himself for our good. He may not be with us forever, but we... we shouldn't expect him to. His legacy of bravery, honor and benevolence, can be carried by all of us even if he has to leave us again one day. We may not have super strength. We may not be able fly without the aid of machines, see things hundreds of miles away, or hear what's going on in Egypt, America and Brazil at the same time. But there are things each of us can do to make this world - our home - a better place to live. Superman has taught us that.
"That's why I can't accept this award tonight. The world does need a savior. The world does need Superman. Without noble, honest, caring people like him, willing to help without thanks or reward, our world would be a sad and sorry place to live." Lois gathered her cards and glanced around the room. "Thank you," she said, stepping away from the podium.
Lois took two steps away before the audience reacted. Suddenly, there was a thunder of applause, peppered with whistles and cries of "bravo". She looked out at the audience again. Every seat was empty - every person on their feet smiling and clapping as hard as they could. The presenters shook her hand heartily before letting her go down the steps toward her seat.
Lois smiled and shook the hands of several people before she made it to Richard and Jason. They were both grinning at her, and she received hugs from each. The presentation was wrapped up, and Lois made her way toward the exit with her family. She was stopped by several people who wanted to congratulate her on her decision, and praise her speech. She was graceful, thanking each person in turn. She was surprised when she was approached by Clark. She hadn't known Perry had assigned him to cover the event, but he had his notebook and his press pass was clipped to his jacket. He smiled at her and shook her hand for several moments.
"I loved what you did up there, Lois," he said with that goofy smile. "It took a lot of courage to go against what you wrote before."
"Thanks, Clark," she said. "I guess I just thought it was the right thing to do."
"I'll bet Superman would think so, too."
Lois smiled. "Thanks," she said again. He smiled at her and Lois walked out of the building, hoping that somewhere, Superman had heard what she'd said, and that it had brought a smile to his face.