Retro Thursday 12-30-2021


Do Monsters Make War or Does War Make Monsters?

I’ve always believed that, to start a war, one must be a monster. That, however, was before I realized the worse monsters wore the best human faces. Don’t give me the Wolfman, Frankenstein, the monsters in the closet or under the bed. They are mild compared to those whose faces have contorted into human form. Hitler. Lenin. Papa Doc. We all know now what they were. They never hid the monster. Were they were monsters from the first, born monsters?

If not, how did they become monsters? The Wolfman was bitten by another werewolf; Frankenstein was built by a mad scientist; monsters in the closet and under the bed came from the darkest reaches of a child’s imagination. Or, at least, from the darkest reaches of man’s imagination. I don’t believe children dreamed these monsters. They came from somewhere else, from millions of years of human consciousness, from endless darkness outside the warm circle of a fire.

Are monsters just those who are more closely connected to this vast well of  memory? Was Hitler born a monster or did he become one? How about Jeffrey Dahmer? Could a child be born with the need to destroy, to eat flesh, to degrade another person to nothing? Can a child be born a dictator?

Or were all the wars this world has seen the prologue to the monsters to come? Did the hate and bitterness and rage from time unmentioned predispose some children to be born with emptiness in their souls?

What of the Grinch?  How did he come into his grinchiness? Birth? Nature? Nurture? And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could stand in a circle, holding hands, singing joy and love and peace to alter the heart of the coldest monster? To fill their souls with that same joy and love and peace.

But we can’t. It doesn’t work that way. The Grinch is made-up. Fiction. A story to teach us joy and love and peace overcome all evil. But I don’t think they do, not in the real world. The world is getting darker and harder when one would think the opposite should be true. Shouldn’t our growing knowledge of the universe – the increases in food and medicine and all things human – make the world better? Shouldn’t we care about global warming and starving children? Don’t we realize that it is our world we are killing? Or are we all born with something of the monster inside? Are monsters god’s dice toss, watching to see which way we go? Or are wars and monsters just fragments of a collected dream?

So which do you think comes first? The monster or the war?

Or are we all both?