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Handing out hope
Geist has helped direct traffic at the scene of a fire (with the blessing of police), joined missing-person searches and provided food to the homeless (which he pays for himself). Asked if the latter makes him feel good, he said, “There’s never enough [food to feed everyone]. There’s never going to be enough, and that makes me feel sad.”
He was motivated to become a superhero by the 9/11 attacks. “There had to be a polar opposite to that evil,” he said. “There had to be a positive response.”
Society needs heroes, agreed Scott Labarge, a philosophy professor at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California.
“Our heroes are symbols for us of all the qualities we would like to possess and all the ambitions we would like to satisfy,” Labarge said. “And because the ideals to which we aspire do so much to determine the ways in which we behave, we all have a vested interest in each person having heroes, and in the choice of heroes each of us makes.”
Like most real life superheroes, Geist doesn’t believe he has superpowers. He can’t fly like Superman, climb walls like Spider-Man or sprout deadly spikes like Wolverine. But when he goes to help people who are down on their luck, the only thing that matters is what they believe.
“People can believe whether it’s true or not that there are heroes in the world,” he said. “Maybe it’s a myth, but it’s the belief that’s important. I really doubt I’m one of them, but on that day when I meet them, I am a hero to them. That’s the hope we give to others.”
Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392