Srgjan Ivanovik tries to explain the existence of bad guys to his daughter and himself.
“Daddy, why does there always have to be a bad guy?”
With all the pureness typical for the mind of a four-year-old child, my daughter wanted to know why every cartoon she watches has a negative character. As much I wanted to give her a quick answer, I remained speechless for a long time. One week later I’m still speechless.
If you think through our shared cultures, you find bad guys are not only in every cartoon but in every book and movie. Bad guys are everywhere in real life too. All I can say for sure in this moment is villains are needed because otherwise how can we see who the heroes are. They help us to be confident about who we identify with, to cheer for right one, to love the one who is a real savior, a real prophet, a real advocate of people, a real champion and the best candidate in elections!
From the dawn of our civilization people have created gods and heroes after their own image. Gilgamesh and Hercules are very dynamic characters, but if we analyze their enemies, we can see the outburst of creativity, spectacle, and sensation. Hercules is a tough guy. We all know that, but he is the strongest person in mythology not because nobody wanted to shake hands with him, but because he slayed the Nemean lion and the nine-headed hydra. He was as brave as he was beautiful, courageous and handsome as much as his enemies were strong and ugly.
Here we come to present days.
ISIS or ISIL is dangerous and ugly as the hydra itself, so everything is clear. the USA and coalition forces are doing a great job of fighting “the caliphate” in Iraq and Syria. Yes, in the same Syria where one year ago the USA started to form a coalition to overthrow the dangerous and ugly president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. The partner of this US coalition, then and now, is Syrian opposition, whose members are openly or secretly connected to ISIS or ISIL or those bad and ugly guys.
It is easy to form an opinion about heroes and foes when you see how certain regimes repress their own citizens. Bashar used chemical weapons on the ones who oppressed him, and ISIS kills with great creativity everything it touches. They deserve to perish.
So let’s talk about Ferguson now. Is it not the regime of the bad and the ugly in this case too? A Police officer unnecessarily took the life of young man and tried to cover it up. The regime proclaimed the police officer was not guilty, and when people started their protest, many of them were arrested. This regime is certainly not the same as those it installed in Syria, but certainly, the regime is bad enough to be considered as “bad and ugly”.
We need our villains because we need our heroes. For every hero, we have a bad guy and for every divine character, there are dark forces that follow. The story is always the same in every book, cartoon, or religion. It’s Jedi vs. Sith, John Wayne against “re**kins”, and radical religious zealots against everything on this planet. At the end, it is people of Ferguson vs. the very same people of Ferguson who don’t care about how their government is behaving, unless armed officers are killing their victims outside the USA.
For the sake of the easy answer, I still have no idea what to tell to my daughter, and I probably never will.
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Photo: erin leigh mcconnell/Flickr