Saturday, March 19, 2016

Heroes and Villains

As a writer, I am also a student of human nature.  I expose human frailties through my characters.  It’s what identifies some as villains and some as heroes. Villains often feed off hatred or utilize hate to manipulate others. They are often hate mongers who utilize the lowest aspects of human nature to provoke feelings of hatred in others and seek nothing more than to spread hate throughout communities, nations or entire worlds.

How they use hatred varies. They may tap into hidden prejudices in other people’s hearts and use it as an advantage, or they may directly feed the hatred from their own hearts to amplify their powers.  Adolf Hitler used hate to his advantage.  His method was simple and straight forward.  He said, “I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.” He used bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny to promote violence.

Hate raises its ugly head when we feel under attack or threatened.  It seems as though we, as human beings require a scapegoat.  It’s as if we need someone or some group to look down on, to blame for the ills in our society and our own inadequacies. In fiction, this weakness is exploited to manipulate the reader’s sympathies in favor of the hero.  He refuses to stand idly by and, by his silence, let this hateful message be perpetrated.

The conflict arises out of the need for the hero or heroine to combat this hatred.  It is tempting to pit the hero against the villain in a classic battle of good vs. evil.  However, as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” This makes for a more difficult plotline.  The winner is not always clear and sometimes the hero must lose the battle to enhance the outrage against the villain, and in this way, incite the masses to action against him.

In this year of political upheaval, it is important for us to guard against the volcanic eruption of political propaganda that feeds on human passions and emotions. We must remember that all propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.  Hitler recognized this weakness when he said, “How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.”

Therefore, I urge you, if you are going to make an important decision regarding religion or politics, listen to many points of view and not just those of the hate mongers. Be a hero.