|A True Hero and a Cartoon Hero|
We are studying the teachings of the prophet George Albert Smith this year. The more I get to know about him, the more impressed I am. (At the end of the post, please take a minute and watch a video of his testimony from 1945)
Sunday in High Priest group meeting, someone read the following quote from President Smith:
"We have received a wonderful gift - but with that gift comes a great responsibility." (April Conference, 1922)
As I reread the quote, it sounded vaguely familiar. I kept stewing, trying to figure out where I had heard it before, and it occurred to me: Spiderman. So, I went in search of it, to see if Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, stole this quote from President Smith.
Here is what I found:
OK, so the quote wasn't exactly the same. President Smith talked about a gift, Spiderman was talking about power, but then referred to it as a gift - or a curse. So my search quickly begins to enter choppy waters.
But wait! Peter Parker didn't say it first - he was quoting someone else - his Uncle Ben. How did Uncle Ben say it?
"With great power comes great responsibility."
The idea has been around for some time within the faith. The Lord taught Joseph Smith in 1832 "Where much is given, much is required."(D&C 82:3) Thousands of years earlier, in HIs beautiful consistency, Christ taught "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required..." (Luke 12:48)
The idea of increased responsibility coinciding with increased gifts is obviously a Godly teaching. Simple, strong, true.
So where did the Spiderman version of the quote come from? Spiderman came out in 1962 - which is a year later than I came out. (Ba-da-boom!) It figured that Uncle Ben wasn't the first to say it. After spending and exhausting ten minutes researching the origin of the phrase, I discovered that it has been around for a long time.
Back in 1732 there was a French writer named Voltaire. He was a historian/writer/philosopher during the "Enlightenment" era that had a great influence on the thinking leading up to the American and French Revolutions. (We saw his tomb in the Panthéon in Paris. Cool place.) Voltaire said:
"Un gran pouvoir impose un lorde responsibilité." So, there's your answer. What? You don't speak French? Translated it means: "A great power imposes great responsibility." Close enough for me.
No matter who said it first, or what version was said, it could not have been Spiderman, or even Uncle Ben. I'm going to give this one to Voltaire, with a conceptual credit to God.
But, I am going to study more about both President George Albert Smith and Voltaire, because it's good for my soul, and I know far too little about them.
Here is the video I mentioned, in case you were wondering what President Smith was like. (The answer is Awesome.)