San Francisco recently did something extraordinary. They changed their name for the day. With the name change, they changed their entire persona. For the day, their priorities shifted. One of the greatest stories of 2013 has to be when San Francisco morphed into Gotham City, in which BatKid was needed to save the day.
Miles Scott is a 5 year old little boy who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 18 month old. For a very young little boy, he was fighting a very adult battle. As of June, he has ended treatment and is now in remission. His battle with cancer caught the attention of the “Make a Wish” foundation. When asked what Miles’ wish was, he said that he wanted to be Batman for the day. Not only did the foundation grant Miles his wish, they exceeded even his wildest expectations.
Dateline: San Francisco….err…I mean…Gotham City, November 15, 2013. BatKid wakes up to what should have been a normal day, but little does he know that an unprecedented crime wave is set to hit the city. Police Chief Greg Suhr calls on BatKid to save Gotham from the impending anarchy. With time of the essence, BatKid is called to rescue a damsel in distress who has been captured and left on the cable car tracks. BatKid sprints to his Batmobile (a donated black Lamborghini) and races to the scene to protect the innocent.
As BatKid was finishing with the damsel, little did he know that his day was just getting started. The Riddler was in the process of making an unauthorized and forceable withdrawal from a local bank. Only BatKid could save the day. Using the Gotham Police department (SFPD) as an escort, the caped crusader makes his was to the bank to thwart the attempted robbery. Edward Nigma (AKA The Riddler) was no match for the likes of BatKid.
After an eventful morning, BatKid and his family treated themselves to a well deserved lunch. Crime though, takes a break for nobody…well maybe a little break to finish lunch at the Burger Bar. The San Francisco Giants mascot Lou Seal had fallen into the evil clutches of the Penguin. Arriving at AT&T Park, BatKid once again saves the day as he rescues the beloved Giants mascot. A day that had the potential to end in disaster turned into the caped crusader’s finest hour. For his efforts, Gotham held a ceremony at city hall where he was presented the key to the city and a public indictment of The Penguin and The Riddler was read to a cheering and grateful crowd.
In a remarkable way, the three major sectors of society came together to give us one of the greatest stories of the year. This story goes beyond just the facts of the story. There are nuggets of truth that are too big to ignore. These nuggets are the difference between this story being a one hit, feel good story and being a launching pad in how we interact with each other, how we minister to each other, and the hope that we can offer each other.
It is my theory that there are three major sectors of any successful society: private, public, and non-profit. For this story, each came together in a unique way and contributed to it’s success.
The private sector of society is responsible for the production of society. In a balanced and successful society, the private sector is where profit is originated. In our BatKid story, the credit goes to The San Francisco Chronicle (who changed it’s name to the “Gotham City Chronicle” for the day, KGO-TV, and of course the owner of the Lamborghini all contributed to make sure that BatKid’s day exceeded even his wildest expectations.
Generally speaking, the public sector is responsible for general safety. Even when those with religious community disagree in certain principles, there are overarching concepts that transcend doctrine that need to be protected. The public sector identifies and enforces these concepts in the form of laws. Kudos to the San Francisco Police Department and the mayor for making sure that the public was safe as the crowds gathered.
The non-profit sector serves as society’s conscience as it brings level of humanity to both the private and public sector to make sure it has a strong moral compass. In the past, religious organizations took this responsibility in society. In the past, the church has been instrumental in the creation of schools, hospitals, and any other service that the community needed. The church continues this work and goes unnoticed for a lot of it. The non-profit sector in this story is headlined with the “Make-A-Wish” foundation as they continue their calling to grant the wishes of kids who are fighting serious medical conditions. They deserve an immense amount of credit for what they do.
All of these organizations conspired to give BatKid a day he would never forget and story that has universally awakened the miraculous power when people come together to impact a child’s life in an extraordinary way. It is an example of the potential that we have as a people when these three sectors of society cooperate with each other for the common good rather than compete with each other for actual or perceived power. Let this be the template for us all moving forward as we continue to tap into the miracle of coming together.
The thing that I noticed the most though was that the crowd was not only supportive of BatKid, but they were clinging to the hope that this event represented. The crowd looked at these three sectors on how they came together for this individual and that gave them hope. Too often they hear stories on how the private, public, and non-profit sectors try to do things that they are either ill-equipped or uncalled to do. Naturally this has produced conflict. That conflict has spilled over into all three sectors to the point where the approval rating government officials is exploring all time lows, the cynicism of private industry is exploring all time highs, and the effectives of the non-profit and religious sector and the church is exploring an era of diminishing influence that should be a concern to society as a whole.
People are looking for hope. I don’t think it is a coincidence that when we came together as a society to offer it without an agenda outside of serving a 5 year old that has spent as much time in a hospital as he has out is telling, and the crowd noticed. The crowd was and is looking for hope. Crowds grew and people were literally climbing trees and lampposts to get a glimpse of BatKid in action. The template of cooperation has been established and we would be wise to employ it again.