Mom, what superpower do you want?”
My son Ben often throws these kinds of hypotheticals at me while I’m driving him to school in the morning, like, “Would you rather be a polar bear or a grizzly?” or, “Who would win in a fight, Godzilla or Elsa from ‘Frozen’?”
“Wonder Woman’s golden lasso would come in handy when I ask you if you’ve done your homework,” I deadpanned. “And I also want the power to make you instantly pick up your dirty socks from the floor.”
Wisecracks aside, Ben’s question this day was not so random. Later that morning I joined hundreds of civic leaders and philanthropists for one of my favorite events, the OC Community Foundation’s annual meeting at Hotel Irvine. The theme of this year’s gathering was, “What’s Your Superpower?”
I thought it was a particularly resonant question, given the magnitude of the ills facing humanity, from the very local level to the global.
Here’s just one example: The offices of our parent company, Southern California News Group, look out onto the Santa Ana River, where homeless encampments have grown startlingly large. I find it daunting, whenever I’m at the main office for a meeting, to see so much obvious mental illness and the intractable hopelessness among many of those wandering the squalid encampments. Surely it will take superhuman efforts to permanently eradicate this one dilemma just in our county, let alone the entire country. Add to that the drumbeat of doom that has become our national conversation, and it’s easy to feel powerless. Helpless, even.
That’s what was on my mind when I slid into my seat at the sold-out luncheon. “I wonder who’s running Orange County right now?” OCCF president (and, full disclosure, my dear friend) Shelley Hoss joked. “Everybody’s here!”
The program kicked off with singers from Amazing Grace Conservatory doing a rendition of Bill Wither’s “Lean on Me” that raised goosebumps on my arms. It was hard to feel anything…