Lessons from THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

The sign of a good man is not his status, wealth or estate – it is his humanity. The Dark Knight Rises is not the best Batman movie ever made but it is the best representation of not only the character but also of what denotes a good human being.

When the going gets tough, Bruce Wayne can choose to run away and turn his back on the citizens of Gotham, including his friends, yet he doesn’t hesitate to don the cape and bring out ‘Batman’.

Ready to fight to the bitter end to put right old wrongs, protect the innocent and atone for past sins, it’s worth remembering that ‘The Dark Knight’ is still just a man: Bruce Wayne – a scared, scarred, lonely man with little faith in himself or much of mankind.

We have all felt like Bruce Wayne at some point. We have all had to retreat into our own shell at least once, whether it was because we felt too weary to face the world or just needed some time to lick raw wounds inflicted by others.

Wayne is a man without special powers, devoid of extraordinary gifts enjoyed by other superheroes such as ‘Superman’ or ‘Spiderman’. Yet when Gotham comes under attack, he never shirks from his responsibility because he knows that it’s the right thing to do.

You see, when the going gets tough and reality comes to bite you on the rear with the ferocity of a Great White shark, there are only two options: fight or flight. When all around you the world seems to crumble – and betrayal, fear and evil suddenly invade and threaten to conquer – it’s the ultimate test for all your bonds: family, friendship, love.

A decent person with a good heart, whose friendship or love is genuine, would never abandon you to save their own skin. They would stand with you and for you, no matter how shaky the ground upon which you stand may be.

In times of trouble, those who turn their backs on you are those who lack that inner core of courage that is the true mark of our humanity. Even the villain in the movie, the mask-clad Bane, stands until the bitter end in support of his friend – going to battle for them, with them and alongside them.

Whatever your view of this “mercenary”, his loyalty is noble and admirable. At his core lies a compassionate man, turned into a vengeful brute after abandonment and cruelty. Ultimately, we are faced with a being who needs to belong and will do anything for those he loves and a cause he believes in. This is a trait shared with Batman – hero and villain are only separated by a hair’s breadth of difference. For both men, fighting to preserve their inner humanity is not a choice, it’s a way of life.

Thus, when I reflect upon a life-changing betrayal by a supposed ‘best friend’ earlier this year, I feel more sorry for them than myself. I was willing to stand by them, even after all they did, yet they ran away to bury their head in the sand. Were it out of shame, I might understand their behaviour. However, their motivation seems to be convenience: brush things under the carpet and then they don’t exist.

I, however, follow the Bruce Wayne / Batman school of thought: stand up for what’s right, fight for all that is good and never run away from your responsibility to others, no matter how small. When we abandon those principles and forget to tap in to our inner Dark Knight, we risk becoming as misguided as Bane: fighting for the wrong side and losing sight of our own humanity – a very sorry state indeed.

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