How do you think of yourself- hero or villain? Is the worst identity to have not the villain, but the person who is powerless?
Real life isn’t a comic book. None of us are full time heroes or villains (though that would be cool and make life easier). Do to our limited scope through which we see the world I’d guess that most people don’t see themselves as a villain, but instead the hero of their own story. Constantly acting on their own behalf to achieve what they want.
But in the grand scheme of things I can’t with a straight face call myself or anyone I know a hero/villain. I can’t think of a single person I know who is all good or bad. Each of us are constantly fighting a battle within ourselves.
Light vs Dark. Good vs Evil. Hero vs Villain.
As I went to answer this question I was reminded of an old Cherokee story I had once come across:
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between 2 “wolves” inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
I’ve for sure done some hero things in my life. But there are also things I’d call rather villainy. But most of my life and actions have fallen somewhere in more of a grey area- based on your views on morality. However, I like to think I’ve done more good things than bad things in my life. Or at the very least the “bad” things I’ve done haven’t had any real consequences on anyone else. In no way does that make me a hero though. It just means I have a conscious.
Humanity is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Outlasting death. Bequeathing a legacy. We all have a desire to be remembered. This leads to a lot of the ‘evil’ deeds we see done. Our overreaching for this remembrance leads to a type of blindness which leads to the hurting of other people. We want to make ourselves bigger and more important even if it comes at the price of leaving scars on the world or the people around us.
When I was younger I’d think about what impact I could make on the world to be remembered. I wanted the name Todd Smidt to live on forever. I was ambitious, assertive, even a bit manipulative. I wasn’t afraid to step on people to get what I wanted. To pull people’s strings. But as I’ve gotten older and seeing just how big the world is it’s become less of a necessity of mine. If it some how happens great. But instead of dedicating my attention to doing something great to leave a mark regardless of the consequences I’ve found myself looking more for what gives my life meaning to me even if all the importance it ever has is just to me.
The answer then is that I’m not a hero anymore than I am a villain. That’s the honest way I see myself. Full of both light and dark. In a constant battle of what’s best for me vs what’s best for the world. Hoping that one day I can answer this question with a more definite answer.
If my two choices were between villain and being powerless I’d choose being a villain all day. I’m a huge proponent of free choice and taking control of your own life. If I was making a short list of my fears it’d go something like, getting dementia, alzheimer’s, pregnant women, being powerless, going blind. That’s basically my fears list. In order to avoid being powerless I’d go full scale villain pretty quick. Judge me if you will but I don’t think it’s too hard of a choice to make. At least then I would still have some sort of control over my life and who knows, perhaps I’d even enjoy the dark side.