A good while back, I had a dear student whom I had sat and read comics with one morning. He was most enthralled by a comic about Thanos, the super-villain supreme of the Marvel Comic Universe. He excitedly told me about Thanos’ powers and his use of an ancient, magical device that allowed him to obliterate a fourth of the universe with a literal snap of the fingers. It was written all over his face that he wished that he had that device and had that kind of control in his life.
In response, my own fearful beliefs about humanity seeped out as I stated, “Yeah, it’s a good thing you don’t have powers cause you probably would have killed me already.”
Before I had time to regret what I said, he retorted “What?! No, I wouldn’t! I’m not inherently evil you know…”
That interaction made me realize that I had developed a false belief about what it meant to be a human. I had indeed taken up the belief that we are inherently evil and that, given the resources and power to do so, any one of us would impose themselves upon others and take possession (easy to believe after observing a high school or two).
Humans have light and dark inside of them. We feed and foster whichever we choose. Naturally, we gravitate towards sinful responses because of our distorted nature, but I don’t believe that we at our core are evil. Broken and marred in a world full of evil, but not evil through and through.
Those of us who are healers seek to put an end to pain and see evil brought to an end. The sad truth is that we are also wounded and struggle with the same temptations to act out of our pain.
Worse yet, some hearts have become either so wounded or too prideful to allow someone to show them the lives they could have, but if we are to keep ourselves from becoming the monsters that we fear, we must begin healing.
I don’t think my student is inherently evil. I don’t believe that in the least.
I do believe, however, that pain left unattended grows into something ugly. The sin that is done to us often can lead to the replication thereof. As children, we pick two paths of response. We either accept it as normal and let it happen to us as if we deserve it, or we lash out against it.
This student, whom I cared about very dearly, did not have the feeling of security and control in his life that he needed. In response, he often sought to gain control, popularity, and power over his peers. He had no idea what a wonderful and lovable person he already was because he could not accept himself as he was. He was hurting, as most teenagers are.
The false beliefs, fears, and our pride infiltrate our thoughts which leads to our actions, whether it be as extreme as tyrannical control or, equally extreme, self-depreciating torture. We make ourselves into slaves and slave masters (both literally and figuratively) in response to our own darkness within.
I knew that this teen was capable and incredible things. Good things. What I saw in him was the power that he craved. The power to live a life happy and free; a life with strong, healthy connections and the respect that he truly deserves.
I pray that one day…the entire world will find that freedom.