SELF & STORIES

Good? Evil? Which Are You?

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

7 November 2019

When I think of an evil personality, I immediately go to the part of my childhood memory formed from stories and movies. Jafar in Aladdin, Scar in The Lion King, the witch in Hansel & Gretel, or the wolf in The Three Little Pigs to be exact. These bad guys are easy to spot due to their sinister looks and disturbing ideas. Jafar plans to marry the princess he’s known since birth in order to become the sultan. I don’t know about you, but even if he didn’t kidnap and try to murder Aladdin, his ideas about taking over the world are enough to label him as evil. Scar in The Lion King puts his nephew’s life in danger on multiple occasions in order to be the king. Kill your nephew for power? Evil. Check.

If you’ve read Hansel & Gretel or The Three Little Pigs, I’m sure you’d agree it’s rather simple to spot the evil characters. I realize most stories have an antagonist who’s essential to the moral of the story, but I wonder if the good and evil story line causes problems in the real world.

Say Hello to the Bad Guy

Have you ever felt like the bad guy? Even if you felt like the enemy in some story from your life, did you have good reason for doing what you did? In real life, the line between good and evil is not straight or solid – it’s a blurry mess. We act and react to situations by doing what we think is best, regardless of how others may interpret our behaviors. I’ve gotten in accidents that were my fault. I’ve gotten tickets for speeding. I’ve even betrayed someone’s trust. Does that make me evil? In some stories, I’m sure it does. But that doesn’t mean I’m evil. Perhaps I was vulnerable and made bad choices, but it doesn’t change my character for life. If we learned about the histories of Jafar and Scar, I’d bet we’d have a different take on their perspectives.

“People still subscribe to the belief that shame is a good tool for keeping people in line. Not only is this wrong, but it’s dangerous. Shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying.” – Brene Brown

Make Amends … With Yourself

The creation of evil characters teaches us a lesson, but they’re not real people. Real people are complex beings made up of different experiences, driven by their brains’ perceptions, and trying to prosper in a sometimes-senseless world. We all make choices, good and bad, but most of us do so with the best intentions.

So, if you think you’ve been a bit evil lately, forgive yourself. The world needs your goodness.

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