Heroes and Villians

“Every villain is a hero in his own mind.”
Tom Hiddleston

Who wouldn’t be? The majority of us don’t want to admit our faults and mistakes. We want to be seen as the hero, not the villain. This desire is basic human nature. I am one of those who believe our basic nature is good, or maybe I just want this to be true. I don’t like to think that I might be a villain trying to be a hero.

But, if I am totally honest, I have to admit the truth of the above quote. Worse case scenario, Hitler. He had to think he was doing right for his country, so he must have seen himself as a hero for the Aryan race. While I might never agree with his belief – I can’t think of many who would – I have to believe he believed. If he didn’t, then the world descends into chaos where no rules apply. Maybe, I just want to think there is some redeeming quality in all men, and women, whether Hitler, Papa Doc or Al Capone. My belief does not condone their behavior (I am, to the end, an Aragon fan), but it allows me to see them as human.

Then again, I have been listening to Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The tortures perpetrated by the Japanese against the POW’s were beyond cruel. I reached the point where, if she had gone on much longer about their captivity, I would have stopped listening. For what they did to helpless prisoners, the Japanese guards were evil. So how do I understand that they, too, might have looked at themselves as heroes? Do I need to?

What about the CIA?  During the Cold War, they experimented with various ways to create the perfect assassin.  Who cared if their attempts included giving LSD to unsuspecting people?  Does this make them evil? Does it make them responsible when one of their subject jumped to his death from a 10th story window? Yet, I know they must have considered themselves heroes.

I’ve blogged about good and evil before, but the questions keep turning in my mind. I need to understand why the Japanese did what they did because, if I understand, I might figure out how a man who kills millions of ‘inferior’ people could possible call himself a hero, how men with no reason to hurt those prisoners under them, tortured them daily, hourly, minute by minute, just because they could.

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