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prev I am Superman and I know what’s happening next
2003-07-05 | 3:22 p.m.

Excited to be having a day to do all the sweet nothings, nobody to raise an eyebrow, just me and a seven-year-old girl gratefully stupefied by TV superheroes. But then I get online and read, via BBC, about children having their ears, noses, and lips cut off by the kidnapped child-soldier armies of a maniac cult leader in Uganda. I am disturbed, I want to do something. I go to the human rights sites and I can't find anybody who's working on Ugandan children. So I resolve to write a letter to my Congressman. Then I go back to the BBC and read about a police station in San Salvador where someone going along on the road outside tossed the freshly decapitated heads of two teenage girls. It is an epidemic in El Salvador and Guatemala, apparently, dismembering teenage girls. Speculation holds that these random killings are initiation rites for would-be gang members.

I am disturbed. What can be done? I think, and think, and come up with nothing. I already know the pat answers available to any leftist, but these do not soothe me. I wonder if I should start a local chapter of Amnesty International and work on these campaigns. My mind travels back to El Salvador and Guatemala, wondering what motivates men to join these gangs. Idly, I think about starting a gang of my own. The Anti-Dismemberment and Decapitation League. Maybe it all has to go down good guys vs. bad guys, mano a mano, like an episode of Batman or the Powerpuff Girls.

I'm not normally a praying man, but if you're up there, please help me, Superman. ―Homer Simpson

Felony comes to me and says, "Mom, can I put makeup on you?" I say no, I want to work on the house, maybe in a half-hour, but she gets out the powder and starts powdering my cheeks anyway. I think about a face without lips and I cannot stop anybody from doing anything. I think, and think, and I tell myself that I mustn't forget. There are people in the world calling for help and though their voices are very dim here in my sun-dappled suburban bedroom, I must answer them.

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