Sunday, January 8, 2012

Do "good guys" need "bad guys"?

       The correct answer should always be no, evil is never necessary but sometimes the human ego can make it seem that way. Many times it seems that for there to be a good person there needs to be evil ones be be the foil to their character- or the moral scapegoat. Some bad guys are romanticized by society in subtle ways- depending on who their evil is directed to. On the other hand there are those who are too sloppy to romanticize but instead serve society by making "good guys" and especially "in between guys" feel better about themselves. Actually there are no perfect people and few- if any perfectly evil people so most people fall somewhere in that "in-between" spectrum. When people don't feel they don't have enough "bad guys" close-by to provide some contrast for them, does it mean they have to invent "bogeymen"?
       A character like "Scarface"- even though I'm not even that familiar as I am not a movie person- should be the last one I would quote for words of wisdom but here he has a point:
"Say good night to the bad guy!"
"What you lookin' at? You all a bunch of ******' ********. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your ******' fingers and say, "That's the bad guy." So... what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy!"

       I think most people of Faith can agree that to take any secret pleasure, glee or "schadenfreude" out of the misdeeds of others would cause us to share in at least some of the guilt- maybe even more of it in a few cases. Yet I think most of us can do this unwittingly at times. Pride is Evil's last weapon against otherwise good people. Do we ever hear of a heinous/ugly crime on the news and feel almost a sense of unity in discussing how despicable that person on TV is? For a brief moment the shortcomings of the average Joe seem trivial.
       The reason I bring this up in this blog has to do with some of the issues I brought up in past posts. One example is in my posts about the "euphemism treadmill". In cases like this the "bad guys" are not always serial killers, sexual deviants, or truly abusive individuals, but perceived "bad guys" who might have put their foot in their mouth, got misunderstood, are naive, are less well informed, or simply have an alternative point of view. I see this same thing in things like animal welfare. Granted I'm an animal lover myself and have great respect for those who advocate for our furry(and not-so-furry) friends even if I don't always agree with them. I do however see differences of opinion, for example on the best way to train a dog, and this back and forth demagoguery between otherwise decent people. I also see a lot of abuse of the word "abuse". I can (unfortunately) expect this stuff from rivaling politicians but among humanitarian oriented people it is counterproductive. It takes the positive (I mean genuine positive not holier-than-thou positive) to defeat the negative.

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