Musings on Life

Standing up for Villains


One of my weird superpowers is my ability to see a situation from multiple points of view. I am able to create stories to justify the actions of many people. I often have discussions and take up the position of defending the undefend-able. The more I consider the logic behind this the more I consider how much we seek to distance ourselves from those we see as villain or other. We can otherize these people so as not to see those qualities in ourselves. The reason I often defend the “villain” is because I see within myself the potential for villainy. I know I have the capacity to do great harm or great good and by seeing that I empathize and sympathize with those who are moral reproachable in some way shape or form. By putting myself in their place and understanding their actions, it seems to other people like I am accepting what travesty has occurred. The truth though is no one is a villain and if I were all judged by my most atrocious acts, I could come out looking like a villain too. Ultimately the truth is in the eye of the beholder and history is written by the victors. Otherizing people who do “bad” things is not allowing people the space to change. The ability to choose differently is taking the action and using it to define a person rather than simply acknowledging that the person made a choice that is bad that does not indeed make the person bad. I found this to be true in teaching too. By characterizing a student as bad, you are not giving them the opportunity to change.

We as humans all make bad choices. Sometimes due to lack of sleep or stress, and we have the opportunity to change. We want to simplify the world, and I get it simplifying feels easier, it seems to make the whole thing easier. The reality is though it shuts down our ability to connect. By placing someone in the bad category, we are making them less human and are hurting our ability to witness who they are today in this moment by stating that they must be who they were when we defined them. We do not get to define other people, we can only define ourselves. Would we really want to be categorized based on poor choices? Can we give grace to ourselves and allow ourselves to grow and change? Can we do that for others? In my mind, there is no one who is villainous, everyone is worthy of care and concern, everyone struggles. We need to hold space for others and have compassion. Compassion, but also boundaries. We can love other people and also recognize and take ownership for our feelings around that person. We can take time and space for ourselves. We are also accountable and if we do not have the emotional space for compassion, we may need more physical space and time apart from that person to be the people we want to be understanding that that person may be struggling too. The world is too complicated for black and white, too complicated for our categories. If we slow down and start to see the intention and the struggle we can hold space in our hearts for others and not dictate who they are. We can allow them to change and grow. We can accept them in this moment and the next. We can love each other and I think if we did that the world would be a much better place.


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