Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bad Guys

My son has long dwelt in the world of stories, where there are usually clear protagonists and antagonists. Philosophically, we are find ourselves challenged when Aidan asks us, "Is he a Bad Guy?"

Usually, the appropriate answer in the context of the story is, "Yes, he's a bad guy." But is that the way we want him to see the world? Because, most of the time, the line between good and bad is not nearly so clear-cut. So much of true compassion (both for himself and for others) is recognizing that everyone is usually trying, more or less, to do the right thing, and that everyone is, more or less, failing at it on regular basis. Rather than just seeing "Bad Guy" written out on someone's forehead, we would like him to be capable of having compassion even for those who are doing bad things. Sometimes that person is himself.

Eckhart Tolle led me further down this line of thinking: "Any time you feel yourself reacting to someone with resentment or other hurt feelings, you can be fairly sure it is the ego in you reacting to the ego in them. If you see it as just that -- a manifestion of ego, the collective unconscious nature of the human condition -- then you don't take it personally anymore, and you are free to let it go."

At the same time, I really do believe in Evil. Regardless of the root cause, there are some people who are heartless, remorseless, without regard for others and who do terrible things. God's mercy may reach out to every soul, but Man's compassion has its limits, and there are some people who are past man's ability to redeem. True compassion doesn't always mean, "Let's sit down and talk about it." Sometimes you have real enemies, and they need to be fought. I don't think I do my son any favors by depriving him of the archtypal Villain who must be defeated by the Hero; that, also, is part of the truth.


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