Random Things in Motion #12: If you had the power to save the world, would you take that responsibility?

What was it that Uncle Ben used to say to Peter Parker?

Many times I’ve seen this in the books I read, particularly the fantasy ones. The world is in disarray with evil and oppression seeping into every corner. Darkness fills the skies and the people have ceased hoping for a change to happen, and instead resign to their lives of misery and defeat. Then, someone comes along. A lanky boy. Or a rebellious girl. Or mayhaps the pathetic servant of a drunk lord. Whoever they are, they hold the power to change the world, to help the people in need, to make a difference.

But, usually, they start not wanting to.

And why would they, they’d ask. They never asked for their powers. They never wanted to be the chosen one. They never wanted to bear the burden of the whole world on their shoulders. How could one person stand against an enemy so great and so grand? How could one individual possibly make a dent on an evil that has oppressed the people for a long, long time? And every time they turn away from the responsibilities brought by their powers or skills or capabilities, I get a little pissed inside, because I’ve always believed that each and every one of us has a duty to the world. We should be honoured to be given the chance to do something for the people who wanted to but couldn’t. We should, above all, try to do something, if we can do it. I thought that it didn’t matter what we want or don’t want, because our human desires pale in comparison when faced with great danger that has the potential to decimate everything we hold dear. Call me idealistic or unrealistic, but this was what I would feel whenever I encountered selfish people in books – people with powers who refuse to use them.

But then, I tried doing some thinking and discerning. The world right now is full of shitty people, shitty wars, and shitty diseases. If I had somehow suddenly received superpowers to stop criminals in the streets, would I actually do it? My first thought was, “Yes, I would!” but then I realized that once I put myself out there, people will start relying on me. They will start depending on me, pinning their hopes on me, and I would be in a position where I could greatly exceed their expectations or greatly disappoint them when I fail in my duties. Once I put myself out there, I wouldn’t own myself anymore, at least not completely – I would be owned by the public people, because my existence will start to revolve around them and their safety. I wouldn’t just be responsible for myself, I would be responsible for each and every life out there.

And then, I thought, “Holy shit. That’s actually pretty scary.”

Right now, if you would ask me this same question, I would probably start as hesitant. I would love to save the world, but what about me? In the end, I’m only human, and I would always, always think of myself selfishly. But I would also (probably) eventually realize that if not me, then who? There is a saying that “many are called, but few are chosen” and in the end, I would (probably) act on my calling especially if I have the powers to do it.

But who knows? This is all speculation right now and probably filled with a bit of idealistic bias. Maybe I would be a completely shitty human being and I’d turn away like the characters in the books once did (trust me, they eventually saved the world later). I’d like to think I’m more than that, though, and that YES, IF GIVEN THE CHANCE I WILL SAVE YOU, MY BRETHREN.

One thing is for sure, I won’t be judging those characters anymore.

What about you? What do you think? If you had the powers to change or save the world, would you bear that responsibility on your shoulders? Let me know in the comments below!

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. says

    Interesting topic Faye! I think I’d be nervous yes, and I also think I’d be hesitant, because, like you say, we’re not us anymore, we’re this higher, better, more demanding version of us, and that’s not always a good thing, and if worst came to worst, you probably would, because if you’re the only one that can, you kind of have no choice, right? :) Really great topic! :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thanks for thinking so, Amanda! And I agree, if push comes to shove and there’s no one else, we’ll be pushed by a sense of duty to do it. Plus, the pressure!!!

  2. says

    This reminded me of Buffy, haha. She wasn’t pathetic and oppressed when she first became the chosen one though. Rather, she was spoiled, popular and slightly ditzy. And then she was given the task of ridding the world of vampires and her whole life changed. At first, she did it reluctantly and I can understand why. She’s just a kid and she’s expected to save the world. A lot. But when push comes to shove she did save the world without any hesitation because she knows she’s the only one who can. I think humans can be definitely selfish at times, I know I am. Why would I risk my life, take all that responsibility? But we also pull through…when we know we ‘re the only one who can stop the big bad, like Buffy, that takes priority. Awesome discussion Faye! I somehow turned this into Buffy fangirling lol…forgive me!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, you can flail all you want about Buffy, Amir! I wouldn’t mind at all ;) But yes, I’ve heard so much about her and honestly, she’s one of those “girl powers” that I constantly hear about! I bet Buffy had her moments of doubt, too, about her skill and capabilities, but yes,l ike you said, when push comes to shove, she did what was right. I think it’s instilled in us somehow, you know? The need to step up when there’s no one else who would do it. It’s how the human race has survived for all this time!

    • FayeFaye says

      Even in the little things we do, like going to that job interview or asking that girl to prom, already gives us so much pressure, what about this?! But in the end, something I’ve recently learned (thanks to a Samsung Note commercial lol) that it’s better TO STOP THINKING AND TO START ACTING! Truer words have never been spoken.

  3. says

    I can understand your dilemma, really. I think that’s why superheroes have masks, so that they can still live a somewhat normal life. It will be really hard for a person to just take on the world’s problems. It takes a whole lot of guts and willpower to do it. I don’t think I am cut out for saving the whole world, maybe, by just doing simple and little things for others would do.
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    • FayeFaye says

      Hah! I never thought of that before. That’s right, they keep wanting to save the world from evil, but by keeping their identities secret, they keep a remnant of their private life still!

  4. says

    That statement never rang so true. You’re right, in most fiction those people who suddenly gained powers, had their lives turned upside down, didn’t not ask for it. While at some point it’s cliché; human are innately kind, so they’ll do things for greater good. I think we are heroes in our own ways, regardless of the powers. Even small things are like superpowers if it’s used productively. :D
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    • FayeFaye says

      Precisely. In the end, we’ll be overcome by our duty to the world, the duty to do good, especially if there’s no other person to do it. Maybe it would be the guilt, but maybe it would be something else, but if push comes to shove, we’ll do what we’ll have to do. And yes!! we are all superheroes in our own little ways ^_^

    • FayeFaye says

      I know what you mean! If I were going to save the world, screwing up is the last thing I would want to happen. That would be a monumental failure because so many people are depending on you. YIKES!

  5. says

    I always say I’ll selflessly do whatever it takes to help others, but… I’m not sure if that would be the case. I just don’t know if I alone should “play at God”. This is really interesting, Faye! Sometimes we judge book characters because of this same fact.

    • FayeFaye says

      I know! It’s really different when you put yourself in their shoes. You really understand what’s going on inside their head once you go through the same thing, even if mentally.

    • FayeFaye says

      It’s something that’s very important to think about, to see how much humanity is important to us, and whether or not it’s worth sacrificing for!

    • FayeFaye says

      It takes a very extraordinary person to step up without hesitation or doubt. I know I’m not that kind of person but I’d still probably do it anyway. I don’t want the world to go into chaos and it would be my fault!

  6. says

    I’ve thought about this quite a lot actually! Like, I would hope I wouldn’t be selfish, but I also know that I’m kind of a wimp? Like, I get nervous/anxious/scared really easily. So I’d probably suck at saving the world. (And I ‘d be the WORST heroine in a book, apparently haha). BUT I think I would always feel guilty if I was asked to do this great thing and could help because of any abilities I possessed, and didn’t do it. Hopefully I’d have a very cute boy sidekick so I could kiss at inopportune times. ;) (See, worst heroine EVER)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Me, too. I’d be scared and hesitant to do it, but I would feel guilty at the same time if I chicken out. I would need lots of encouragement, need lots of pushing from the people I love, and lots and lots of courage. HAHAHA! A very cute sidekick is definitely a must!

  7. says

    I actually really don’t like the “chosen one” type stories. Except Harry Potter. Maybe.

    I just always feel like when you introduce the “chosen one” thing, it makes all the other characters feel invalid. We know that even though the hero needs help, it’s always going to be that hero who does all the major butt kicking. There’s no surprise, no unlikely hero. nothing.

    That being said, if someone had the power to save the world, they should be careful. Because aside from huge power, there’s always a heavy risk of curruption. I would actually NOT want the power because of who I am as a person. I do admit that I can be spiteful or immature at times and huge power would just be SUCH a bad idea [plus, I’m totally a wimp so I probably can’t fight anyway]
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, they’re a hit or miss with me. Harry Poter is definitely one of the better ones, though!

      That’s a really interesting way of seeing things, Nova! To be honest, I like it better when the people we least expect to make a difference are the ones who actually changes things… it inspires the average person more, because they are pushed to thinking that, HEY! If this lanky dude was able to do it, then I would, too!

      And yes, being in a position of extreme power leaves you vulnerable to corruption, too. We’ve seen it happen too many times in history… that’s why a check and balance is very necessary; otherwise, we’ve be run aground with so many people power-tripping.

  8. says

    Completely. It’s like when I read TOG, Celaena (is that how you spell her name. THESE NAMES) had these really awesome abilities to kill people. Not magically. But, all the same she was really “supposedly” talented at killing people. She was an ASSASSIN. You kill people when you’re an assassin. You fucking use that power or ability if you have it. And yet: I read 400-some pages without her killing a single person. What the hellish fuckery is this.
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, the first book is pretty much meh, but the succeeding ones are really, really good! And yes, Celaena finally uses her assassin skills there ;P

  9. Laila BC says

    that’s true the bigger you are in the position of power…the bigger is your responsibility and expectations that comes along with it.

    • FayeFaye says

      It really is! I don’t even want to think about it! It’s a good thing I’m far from being the chosen one in anything ;)

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, that’s alright! Everyone is different. And yes,it truly takes an extraordinary person to shoulder everything. I doubt I could take all that alone, at least not at first!

  10. says

    I would like to think that if I was suddenly given powers and told to save the world that I would definitely try my best too! But there is part of me that would question myself. Self confidence is not my strong point. I’d constantly wonder “why me?” and be convinced that there was a better choice out there. I’m not that spectacular. Then there’s all that extra pressure and the fact that I hate being the centre of attention and don’t like conflict so… I really would be a terrible heroine haha.
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    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah, there will always be that doubt lingering in our head that maybe we’re not cut out for it… I feel this all the time before presenting in front of an audience, before an oral exam in Philosophy or Theology, and uhh, just thinking about it when it comes to saving the world, it must be monumentally pressure-ing. If that’s even a word. Haha.

  11. says

    Awesome post idea :)
    I have no idea of how I would react… I want to think I would be this storng person everyone could rely on, but who knows? But that is the reason which makes me fall in love with characters in fantasy/dystopias books. To see their transition from ordinary individuals to real heroes. And I always respect them for that big time!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you very much!

      I know! Many times we have chosen ones, but the other times we have unlikely heroes and it totally makes for a meaningful journey to see them grow up becoming awesome individuals :)

  12. says

    This is such an interesting thought!
    And I totally agree, that is freaking terrifying. To have that much power… I mean, even the pressure on “normal” people without superpowers like politicians and doctors and stuff is pretty big. If you had the power to save EVERYONE the pressure would be ridiculous.
    I feel like you’re kind of locked into having to save everyone though, you know? Because if you don’t you’re responsible for the collapse of humanity. Would you rather that or to save everyone? You’re pretty much forced into the decision to save everyone.
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    • FayeFaye says

      I know what you mean!! I can’t even imagine how it is to be a president of a country and be responsible for each and every little thing. It is definitely NOT an easy feat by any means.

      And yes, you’re right. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and even then, when push comes to shove, you really cannot choose not to save because everything hangs on the balance, you know? I believe everyone has an innate inclination to do the greater good if it comes to it, because otherwise, they’d be dead meat as well.

  13. says

    Interesting topic. It made me think of the saying “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” and I think that applies here as well. I think being in a situation where only you can save the world is pretty difficult and to be honest I can understand those characters and am not sure if I would want that responsibilty, I don’t like being in the spotlight and I am not sure if I would give up my current life to save others. However I am someone who often put others their needs above my own, so maybe I would step up. I don’t think I can say for sure what I would do, but like you said I understand that those character hesitate as you have to give up a lot of things and it is a big responsibility.
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    • FayeFaye says

      Absolutely! Just thinking about it gives me the woozies. If I could avoid it, I would, definitely. But like you said, I’d eventually step up if need be >_<

  14. says

    I like to imagine myself in characters shoes whenever I read books so I’ve always asked myself what i’d do if I were the one in the position of possibly changing the world or something along those lines. I’d like to think i’d rise up to the challenge and really do things for the greater good. I like the think I wouldn’t let fear stop me from doing what’s right but I can only hope for this things. I don’t know what i’d do. I’d definitely have a mini panic attack at some point, lol, but really putting other peoples needs before your own is incredibly difficult. Lovely discussion topic Faye :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, I think anyone would get a mini panic attack, unless, of course, they’re a Spiderman or a Superman or a Captain America in the making ;) And you’re right, if it comes down to it, we will have to not let fear get the best of us when it comes to these things.

  15. says

    I think the “public owning” thing is why so many superheroes have secret identities. I certainly would want one, so I could have a private life, too. Yes, I’m with you. I would feel obligated to help people if I had a special power, no matter what the circumstances. This was a super thought provoking question.
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    • FayeFaye says

      I knooow! If that’s the case, I want to have a secret identity, too! Haha. AT least with that, I’ll still have something that I can proudly say is still ME!

  16. says

    This is a wonderful discussion! Talk about thought provoking! It’s hard, because on one hand, you’d like to think you’d be willing to give up your freedom for the greater good. But on the other hand… that’s the only life you’ve got, and it’s sad to think that you’d live it solely for other people. I think ultimately, I’d do it, but I would probably be pretty disgruntled about it.

    I think there’s a lot of things in life that fit into this category to a lesser extent. Like staying in a job or relationship you hate to provide for your kids, or to care for a relative full time while putting your needs aside. It’s hard and you do it, but you really aren’t always happy about it. It would probably end up being like that, but on a huge, global scale. Fabulous post!
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you very much for the kind words, Shannon! And I know, it’s really not easy, like, at all :| I think everyone would be disgruntled about it, but would give in in the end… it’s that or screw everyone else, right?! That sounds like an even bigger burden ocarry to me!

      And yes, that is so true. When you have kids, you have to put their interests first before yours. You start toiling for them and their futures. So many people do it, and willingly! I wonder if we’re in the same situation in a global scale, we would treat and see it the same way?

  17. says

    What an awesome post! I know without a doubt I would. People often annoy the hell out of me and baffle me with their idiocy, but I love the human race. I’ve always had that protective personality too. I could never stand by and let something shitty happen if I could do anything to help. I just can’t. No matter how black my heart is. ;)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you very much, Christy! Me, too. I lambast it all the time and go on all these “ugh, faith in humanity lost” but it is still my race, my one and only specie, and I would want to see it survive for many more millenias to come. We’re basically babies in the bigger scheme of things!

  18. says

    Oooh I never thought about it that way either Faye. I’m not sure to be honest, it’ll really have to depend on the power I have. I mean, if I got laser beams for eyes I’m not really sure what I can do to help. :/ And if I was in a fantasy setting…yeah heck no I would not even survive the week let alone be able to save people. But if I had the means to do good and succeed at it, of course I would. But I think doing the little things to help is just as great – you don’t have to be a superhero with powers to change others lives. It’s why I donate to charities – I want to help even though I have no money. It’s the little things really. But it would be cool to have powers regardless :P
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha! I don’t think laser beam for eyes won’t help much, too, unless you’re in space and you’re going to do it to blast an incoming meteorite into pieces ;) ;) And, yes, definitely! Sometimes the little things are what matters the most. As long as we do however we can in the means possible to us, that would be great :D

  19. says

    Great post, it really makes me think. I would always get mad at some hero or heroine for not wanting to help even though they had the ability to do so much. My thoughts on this are pretty similar to yours, I would be overwhelmed and kind of scared but I would like to think I would help out people as I could. Maybe adopt a secret identity so I could still be a normal person sometimes ;)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you very much for the kind words, Alise! :) And me, too, I’ve always been feeling that way to such characters, although they would eventually do it in the end anyway. Haha. And a secret identity would be perfect! I mean, I still want to go to restaurants and eat stuff in peace~

  20. says

    Nope. I’m officially too old now and I refuse to aide anyone if the world is ending… Unless Daryl Dixon is involved. In all honesty though, I would. You’d have to though, wouldn’t you? I mean, everyone would KNOW you had the power to save the world, if you chose not to, you’d have to go into hiding. I’m bad in a crisis, I’d be the one crying and running in circles.

    Bloody hell Faye, there random things in motion are absolute doozies. You’re killing me with these :D
    Loved this one! <3
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    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, Darl Dixon would be a tempting incentive, indeed ;) Anyone would be productive in saving the world if they have by their side, I think! Haha. You’re right, though, if everyone knows you had the means but didn’t do it, they would be mad. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kinda thing, I think ><