We have a tendency to see things one way.
It’s a good thing or a bad thing.
A person is a good person or a bad person.
There is very little room for nuance.
There is little room for reality.
The thing though is that we’re both.
I have yet to meet a person that is some sort of living saint, that does only good, and kind, and unselfish things and never wavers from the path of the righeous.
No one meets those people because they don’t exist.
We are all chaotic in our hearts, struggling with what we want, what we need, and what’s best. Working to walk the line and to do the ‘right’ thing, even though that too can become blurry because what is right NOW may not be right LATER, nor may it be right for all parties.
No one said being human was easy, and we certainly don’t make things easier on ourselves.
The thing is that you can be both ‘bad’ AND ‘good’. Victim and villain. It is rare indeed that someone is strictly a monster. Rare that they do things in a vacuum where there is only evil to see. Sure, it happens, where people do things that make looking any deeper fruitless. It takes the distance of time to really be able to look back to see what made up someone and made them what they were. Even then though, some stains go too deep to ever see through.
We live in a dark era An era of almost formless hate and rage at the changing of a world that doesn’t make sense for many any longer. People who feel that the world they were lords in, where they could at least feel that they were held in esteem and held dominion in the world simply for the act that they were born of a certain sex and skin color. The world is changing for all of us and if we aren’t willing to change with it then we’ll be left behind.
Part of this change lies in the painful revelation of past misdeeds that are making their way to the public. People who once felt powerless are taking their years and pain and abuse and forging weapons of it. People who wielded power irresponsibly and used and abused others with it, and then used that power like a blade to hold those they abused in check should simply ‘get away with it’. Having never faced anything like that in my life I can’t even imagine how you process it. Or the notion that the person who abused you has simply gone on with their life and may abuse others while you have to put yourself back together like a puzzle missing pieces.
The gray area comes in what ‘justice’ looks like. We all have agency over ourselves and our actions. If we do something that harms someone and some day pay for it it’s not fair to look around for someone to blame when that someone is you. But justice has a cost. Righteousness has a cost. Again, I can’t say whether or not shouting to the world that someone did you wrong is either effective or just because I have no frame of refernce but then I also dunno what else you would do other than shrug it off and move on, and how on earth do you do that when you may be empowering someone to continue their abuse?
It’s a dangerous road, made all the more dangerous by the public lynching mentality that society has taken on. We want immediate justice and immediate action. We want it and want it now. We don’t have to know the people, we just have to take a side. One side wants to see the abuser utterly and completely destroyed and the other side wants to see the accuser destroyed. It grows beyond the people involved to encompass movements, and rights, and careers, and it is a call to arms for the worst on both sides. These are the scorched earthers who don’t care about anything but the cause. Burn down the rest. Whatever it takes. That there are real people involved, real lives means little in the eye of the storm. The internet has emboldened people to say anything and do anything without reprisal or fear for any price they will have to pay for their actions. You can create a million fake accounts and set fire to people’s lives without ever fearing you’ll ever face any justice of your own.
Things are great that way in these modern days.
There is only good and bad.
A bad person is a bad person and a good person is a good person.
Again, I dunno that someone who has done something deeply damaging deserves the benefit of any doubt but I also dunno that scorched earthing their lives is always the best way either. Super easy for me to say because, for a third time – I am just a bystander. I dunno.
I dunno what justice looks like for the abused.
I dunno what pennance looks like for the guilty.
How much blood is enough?
Is their life itself enough?
Is it ever enough?
Sometimes we can make gods of our pain and abuse and those gods will rule us and will never stop wanting blood. Never.
I have never been abused.
I am lucky in that I am of the right gender, and skin color, and background so that my life has been a lot easier than most. Lucky me. I won’t ever apologize for who I am, but I should at least acknowledge that how I got here is in part because of all of that. None of that too is to say that I didn’t face nasty bullying. Hateful bullying. So it goes. I dunno that that will never NOT bother me but it’s part of who I am. Like the heartbreaks and heart aches. It’s all part of what made me. I can say though that seeing vengeance, and letting that pain rule me would have given my bullies too much power. So they ‘got away with it’. And that sucks because some bullies never learn. They just keep doing what they do, but then I dunno if some can ever be stopped. Heck, it’s worse when you know people who stay friends with those folks and never get to see that side because they aren’t singled out.
What does justice look like to the abused?
What does forgiveness feel like?
How on earth can we ever know when theres a world of trolls and hyenas desperate to burn down the world in the name of their version of justice?
We are all the damned and the damning.
The sinners and the saints.
The victims and the victimizer.
For most of us we’ll be both.
That’s just how it works.
Some things can be forgiven.
Some never should be forgiven.
Sometimes Justice is something that the whole of a community must decide, when in the cases of large scale crimes that effect everyone.
For the personal injustices, whatever they be, that justice has to be decided upon by the person themselves. How far will they go for it? What will they risk? What cost is too great?
Justice and revenge are twin suns that burn brilliantly in the heart and it can be hard to know which to follow. One burns hot, the other cold. With justice it’s about the greater truth and about healing from it. Revenge just calls for blood and the hope that there will be healing from it.
I can never tell someone what their justice is, nor what their revenge looks like. All I can do is shut the hell up and listen when someone shares their pain. I don’t know that it’s fair to blame everyone for everything at all times. I dunno that living in permanent outrage helps anyone, most of all the outraged. I feel like we are all searching for justice without wisdom and rarely with a capital ‘J’. We want the blood, no matter the cost…so long as it doesn’t cost us.
Some of us are monsters, there’s no denying, and monsters must be dragged into the light. That doesn’t always mean that we need the world to stand around with torches at the ready though. Not everything is meant for the public. Not everything needs an angry mob. Not everything is everything.
Most of us are not monster but are just broken people, both sinner and saint, and we can only hope the shadows of our own sins never get larger then the people we hope we are. We must always remember that the fires we set may don’t care who they burn, and they never will.