Since childhood I have been a fan of the X-Men comic book series. For those of you who have no idea who or what that is, allow me to explain. The X-Men is a fictional team of superheroes created by Marvel Comics. They are mutants born with superhuman abilities who strive to live peacefully with humans. They struggle to exist in a world where anti-mutant bigotry is widespread. They face enormous challenges because they are deemed different by society. Most X-Men came into the true understanding and control of their powers at Professor X’s Institute for Higher Learning, formerly Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, under the tutelage of Professor Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X.

Early Analogies with Relevance Today

As a child I was fascinated by the series because the X-Men looked really cool and had great powers. There were even team members I could identify with because they had brown skin, and believe me that was unusual for comic books of the time.

In adolescence I saw the X-Men differently. They were treated unfairly by most humans because they looked different and/or had different abilities.

As I matured, so did my understanding of the true message of the series. The X-Men were subjected to prejudice and divisiveness. They were forced to band together, even live and train together because they weren’t accepted. Some of their mutant brethren even came to despise those who treated them unfairly, causing division within the mutant community.

Gifts, Strengths and Thankfulness

As an adult, I could go on and on about correlations between the prejudices and injustices suffered by the X-Men in their comic book world and the prejudices and injustices endured in the “real world,” but for this season I chose to take a different path. Perhaps it’s because of the holidays, but recently I’ve given a lot of thought to being thankful for the gifts we are given. The power of the X-Men’s greatness is due to “gifts” they were given and their ability to recognize the strengths and gifts of one another. Missions were successful when they coordinated their individual skills and faced daunting tasks by working in concert.

Let’s face it, even Marvel’s fantasy world teaches us that great things are possible when we embrace our differences and work together.

Hillard Heintze and the Xavier Institute

That’s why, to me, Hillard Heintze closely resembles The Xavier Institute, where differences and specialties are embraced and refined, and yes, we do have our own Professor X. Just as Professor X provides a space where individual specializations are appreciated and nurtured, so does “Professor H”. (I’ll leave it to you to guess who he is, but a look at our website should make it clear.)

Like Professor X, Professor H created a space where individual knowledge, skills and abilities could flourish. In Professor H’s case, he recruited people with a wide variety of talents, including investigators and experts in security risk management, law enforcement, social media and communications, among others. And like Professor X, he embraces knowledge and reading.

Like the X-Men dwelling within X-Mansion, there is a family atmosphere at Professor H’s Institute complete with differences of opinion and strong personalities. You might recognize some of these same characters and personalities at your own workplace or organization.

  • Cyclops is often the second in command at the institute. He has learned to control his formidable power. Professional, intelligent and level-headed describe Cyclops. His communication skills and cool demeanor are assets but beware: When he’s upset, things may become heated.
  • Beast keeps things running smoothly. He’s business-minded, analytical and great with numbers. The strong, quiet type should never be underestimated.
  • Wolverine is serious and fierce. He is a protector and the safety of the institute and X-Men is important to him. He appears serious but can reveal a quick wit when he’s not too involved in saving the world.
  • Storm is the motherly protector and teacher. She is calm and even-tempered but can go from 0-100 as fast as lightning if necessary. She will defend others with her life and is a force of nature when crossed.
  • Jean Grey is the powerful, no-nonsense redhead who works closely with Cyclops. She is smart, accomplished and, like the mythical Phoenix, will always rise from the ashes.
  • Jubilee is one of the exceptional youngsters who, along with Kitty Pryde, display their extraordinary talents daily. She has great “social” skills and is inquisitive, sassy and a bit rebellious. Her dedication and sharp mind guarantee she will rise to the top of the institute.
  • Nightcrawler looks intimidating but is a kind spirit with exceptional powers. He has the ability to calm others due to his relaxed demeanor, but hang on because he can take you for a ride when he’s passionate about something. He is honest and will tell the truth, good or bad.
  • Iceman is a real “cool” guy who blows into the institute from time to time. He’s a thinker and incredibly intelligent. He can appear aloof but is engaging and passionate about what he believes is right.

Professor H’s Institute is full of the exceptional. He and Cerebro wouldn’t have it any other way. Together they have located and hand-picked a diverse group of individuals who are committed to the institute’s mission, just as the X-Men were committed to Professor X’s dream.

Which superheroes do you recognize and who are you?

Happy Holidays!