Brooding on Monsters

Forgiveness of others when they wrong me is a fundamental, though often challenging, requirement of my faith. I understand why it is so important, and why we often need help to accomplish it. I desire to be forgiven when I wrong others.

As far as extending human understanding, and even the idea of forgiveness, to some people, I seem to have limits.

Listening to the news has recently brought before me a recurring theme in my life: There is a homicidal torturer that lives under my skin. She longs to take predatory humans, especially sexual predators, into a brightly lit room and vivisect them over the course of several days.

There. I have said it. Yes, I know that many predators are also victims of predation or other horrible circumstances. I also believe that there is a predatory strain, an impulse, a siren call to dominate others, imbedded in humanity.

Obviously, I am no exception. I want to torture certain people, I want to murder them, and when all is said and done, both stem from that desire for domination.

I want to dominate and destroy an aspect of humanity (by proxy of humans that openly manifest it) that exists within me. Even more ironic is the fact that the predatory aspect I contain, that I hate so much in others, would be my motivation and means for attempting to dominate and destroy the aspect in others.

A friend said to me “but they are using it for evil. You want to use it for good.” She means that I want to use it to avenge the weak who are harmed and even killed by those who have the power to harm them. She has strong feelings about cruelty, and she has seen much first-hand as she tries to rescue animals from horrific abuses. She, like me, wishes she could pay the inflicters back, perhaps starving and beating them, then putting them in rings together and forcing them to fight and kill each other while people watching place bets.

There is a grim satisfaction in the thought. An eye for an eye is just. But then I remember that I do not believe that I am the judge. I am a fellow defendant, or at best, a plaintiff.

And yet, without that sense of outrage, that anger, that horror, I would have no motivation to act, to try and stop genocide, or human-trafficking, or rape. Great struggles against these evils are born from the anger, the sense of there being such a thing as justice and injustice.

Righteous anger is, I believe, just that. It is right, and it is anger. Some acts, and the people who perpetrate them, need to be stopped. Given the dangerous monster under my skin, I see the need for an impartial system to stop them, but sometimes the systems do not have the reach, the power, or even the desire to do so. What then? Is a mob, or a movement of the outraged better or worse than the lone avenger driven by righteous anger? A movement is certainly harder to stop, and they have achieved great things, like the Civil Rights Movement combating social injustice. But groups can easily become predators, too, or take their vengeance too far.

After all, not everyone agrees on just causes for anger and action, or the extent of just punishment.

But that is really another issue. What I am trying to process, here, are my own murderous desires. God help me, I know that though my anger may be right, those desires are not. They are understandable, but corrupt. If they are any less horrible than the acts they clamor to avenge, it is not a very great difference.

“Love the Sinner, hate the sin,” is one of those sayings that is too short to be helpful. For one thing, it has become trite, and for another, it is wide-open to all sorts of interpretations and actions. Even if I take it in what I believe to be the right way, I find it rife with complications. How do you love someone when they have done truly horrific things to others? How?!

Perhaps distance makes a difference. It is far easier to simplify matters from a distance, to empathize and demonize ideas of humans rather than real ones. But that is not the whole story. Chances are that I have met perpetrators, predators, and been unaware. I have not yet had to look someone in the eye, knowing horrible things they have done to another person, and try to separate something human from something monstrous in my mind.

I have no solution to this yet, other than the mysterious power that rests in prayer, questioning, and seeking. I am not sure I want answers from others, either. This seems to be one of those instances where I need to find the answer for myself. People vary so much in what makes them angry, how they react, and what they feel or believe is right. Everyone might have a different “answer,” and unless I find this one myself, I will not  trust that it is mine.

I am not even entirely sure why I am writing this post, but I desperately needed to vent, and one thing I do believe is that this world could always use a bit more honesty.

So here I am, raw and snarling. Today, I do not like what I see in the mirror any more than I like what I see in the news. I leave the can of worms of “News Media Bias” unopened, and I ask you to leave it closed, too. I cannot deal with that argument right now. However, I do believe that the sensationalism, the constant barrage of horrors and the voyeuristic hovering, has an effect on me, and on others.

There is good advice to be had in Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I need a bit more of that right now. Predators must be fought, but if we forget what it is we fight for, then what is the point? Perhaps that is the beginning of an answer for me.

Perhaps the monster in me wants to fight against something it hates, but God’s will is that I fight, instead, for something I love?

.

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About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

17 responses to “Brooding on Monsters

  • Brenton Dickieson

    “There is a homicidal torturer that lives under my skin.” Wow.

    • jubilare

      At least she is contained, and perhaps being honest about her existence will help me silence her one day, or at least subdue her to a whisper. I think what disturbs me the most is that the monster in me wants to be unleashed in order to punish others for releasing the monsters in themselves. In short, I would add to the monsters in this world because there are monsters, which is about as bad an idea as I can think of. :/
      My need for Grace is abundantly clear to me today.

      • Brenton Dickieson

        I wrote yesterday about the Nigerian kidnapping (sort of–it haunts behind the word play). My inner torturer was gathering weaponry and ready to go into the jungle.
        But I do not dwell on him. It could be my economic choices or environmental footprint cause more damage than my righteous indignation warrants.

        • jubilare

          I feel that if I ignore mine, I will one day come face-to-face with her, and I may not be ready. It’s true, other things I do in my life may be more actively harmful, but I cannot trust that that will always be the case. Human trafficking is here, hidden, but very present and so horrible that I cannot wrap my mind around it. The kidnapping of these girls in Nigeria is a visible tip of a massive iceberg. Men women and children around the world are being kidnapped, broken, and sold every single day, even here in North America where we like to think slavery has been abolished. Some estimates suggest that there are more slaves in the U.S. right now than before Emancipation.
          Everywhere there are families searching for loved ones that just disappeared. How many of them face this kind of fate? Several organizations in my city are devoted to helping victims, but fighting against the powerful trafficking organizations is a good way to put a target on your back.

          I hope we can get the international community to bloody-well take notice. I want to help the girls in Nigeria, and their families, and crush the extremists responsible, but I have an even deeper desire to crush the people to whom this is a #@#$%#% business, and a hugely profitable one, at that.

          …sorry… it’s just such a horrific thing, and I feel so helpless.

          • Brenton Dickieson

            I think we are pretty helpless. It is invisible, beneath the surface. We can adjust to new environmental realities. We can come to understanding what our economic choices mean. But without throwing ourselves into the who issue, local slavery remains inaccessible.
            I think we can, though, tell better stories–stories that slowly create a new world.

          • jubilare

            We can raise awareness and support those who are able to do more, directly, than we can. That is not nothing. The silence surrounding the realities of human trafficking has been a major part of the problem.
            And yes… telling better stories.

  • Rob

    Ah, Philippians 4:8 again. A good verse for all of us to contemplate.

    Whether to fight against evil or to fight for good, that is the question. That was one of the main themes that Arthur (and T.H. White) struggled with in “The Once and Future King.” And no simple answer in sight. My guess is that we should do a little of both and rely on God’s Grace to guide us.

    And, of course, pray!

  • jubilare

    I love you, daughter mine. Your monster is kin to my monster. So we pray.

  • palecorbie

    As an incurably violent animal myself, I’ve come to realise that usually, the worst thing you can do to terrible people is to persuade them to repent.

    Most monsters are the heroes of their internal stories, freedom fighters for God or country or such-and-such a cause…but take away that narrative, take away their imagined right to be killed by the “baddies” if they cannot triumph, show them the targets hit and prizes taken are people, and force them to grow old with that knowledge, and you will break a man more thoroughly than mere nerve-reaction to the breaking of his body will ever do. The measure of the righteous, I suspect, is that when they take up arms they cannot be so broken by the tendering of steel-clad mercy.

    • jubilare

      I would not say that most monsters are out for a cause beyond lining their own pockets or extending power over others. Sure, there are many out there who fall under the “heroes of their cause” who are doing monstrous things, but there are more slavers, mercenaries, members of organized crime, corrupt government officials, people who abuse their families or anyone else they can… the list goes on. Perhaps they still consider themselves the protagonists of their stories (it would be rare not to) but I do not think most monsters have a “cause.”

      Other than that, I agree. The thought of the kind of suffering you speak of, though, does not satisfy the monster part of me. I don’t want the person tortured, I want the monster to suffer… but the recognition that victims are people is a function of the person, and it is the person who pays the cost (and can reap the rewards, I think) of repentance. I want monsters to recognize their own cruelty and repent of it, for the sake of the person lost inside them and the sakes of others, but I take no satisfaction in the idea of them suffering through that guilt for the rest of their lives. The repentance of monsters quiets my homicidal torturer and wakes the person part of me back up.

      Apart from that, relatively few monsters will every come to see their victims as persons. That is what makes me want to inflict tortures upon them.

      “The measure of the righteous, I suspect, is that when they take up arms they cannot be so broken by the tendering of steel-clad mercy.” And this makes sense to me.

  • Stephanie

    What’s that Gandalf movie quote? “I would use this ring from a desire to do good, but through me it would wield a power too terrible to imagine.”

    …OK the book version says:

    “…Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great for my strength…”

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