Our world has always been comprised of heroes and villains. There are people who strive to do good and those that, for whatever reason, choose dark and hurtful words and actions. For those people who are working to make the world a better place, we pose the question of what color cape do you wear? A red cape person battles bad things and the green cape crusader seeks to improve the good.
Maybe there hadn’t been much thought about what color cape we might choose as we struggle to get through the days and the current national unrest and worldwide stress. This idea of the capes comes from the basic tenants of positive psychology (we both have specializations in this) and what we can do to combat the “bad” and/or increase the “good.” For example, what would we like to remove from our world? That may include racism, violence, injustice, bullying, and anything else that we deem to be wrong. The red cape (if we should choose it) allows us to focus on and decrease the things we don’t want. The red cape is necessary but can be worn peacefully and still be effective.
Let’s say we decide to choose the green cape. The power of this cape is to increase the things we DO want. Peace, justice, kindness. It allows us to focus on opportunities to add good things to our world.
Is one cape better than the other? Not necessarily. There are clearly issues that we need to battle in our world that require wearing red capes – such as wrongful death and the virus that is causing the worldwide pandemic. We may need to take a strong stand against the many hurtful and painful ways in which human beings hurt each other or things (such as the virus) that attack us as a whole.
But, let’s not lose sight of the green cape. Because eliminating what hurts us doesn’t necessarily help us to flourish (in positive psychology terms). Just taking away the bad doesn’t increase the good. Wearing a reversible cape allows us to take a stand when we need to, and fill the space of the bad that we conquered with more good, leaving it better than we found it.
Sometimes it can feel difficult to pick up the cape and put it on, no matter which color we need or choose. The problems we face may seem so huge and insurmountable that we may want to leave our cape in the closet. But, our superhero assignment just needs to be what feels right for each of us in our own conscience. We don’t need to feel like we can single-handedly “fix” the huge problematic picture but we can each do what we can. We can put on either color cape and do something in our own small corner. Do you want to decrease something happening in your neighborhood or town? What would be a step toward that? Or, do you want to increase something that would enhance the quality of human connection in your circle of neighbors and friends?
The power of either cape starts with putting it on.