“If you don’t have a villain, the good guy can stay home.” — Christoph Waltz
In stories the villain is often a more interesting character than the hero. It’s easy to condemn the villain’s actions, but what compels them to do what they do?
The past week I’ve watched movies and documentaries about Jack Abramoff and Bernie Madoff, probably two of the most reviled villains of the past decade. I was curious whether I could gain any insight as to why they did what they did.
I’m not sure that I’m any wiser now, but I had a dream a couple of nights ago that made me reconsider my stance on villains.
In my dream I’m in a kitchen. I take a seat at the table where my old classmate Barry is sitting. He complains about how he had something stolen and that the cops can’t do anything about it. I ask him whether he’s actually talked to the police about it. Barry says that he hasn’t and I tell him to do it ASAP. He continues to tell me how it’s no use and that they’ll never catch him anyway, how the system sucks, and so on.
After a while I get sick of his complaining and tell him that it sucks, that in an ideal world there wouldn’t be any criminals and it’d be all sunshine and rainbows. However, that’s not the world we live in and that bitching and moaning about it isn’t going to change things.
We’re interrupted by a man who comes in and says: “Thank God for criminals! Without them the world would be a mess…”
Soon after that I wake up with all these thoughts whirling around my mind. What if I’m wrong? What if we actually do need the “big bad wolf”?
To be clear, I’m definitely not condoning acts like stealing, assault, rape, bribery, scams, murder, etc.
Any act of violence or intentional abuse of trust should be condemned and punished. To hurt another human being for your own benefit is wrong. There’s no doubt of that.
What I’m saying is that we can both condemn the act, and still use the information to find ways to prevent it from happening in the future.
Also, it lets us see hidden faults in our systems.
Look at what Bernie Madoff and Jack Abramoff did. There’s no doubt that their acts hurt a lot of people and that there’s no way to justify their actions. However, they did open our eyes to what was going on behind the curtain.
Had it not been for these bad guys we might not have understood how people were able to cheat “the system”, why we should be vigilant and take precautions to protect ourselves against not just these two individuals, but others like them.
Like hackers, thieves, corrupt politicians, etc.
I don’t know whether bringing politics into the matter is a smart move, but I’m going to do it anyway. If you disagree with my views that’s fine, but remember that I’m not necessarily saying that my views are the correct ones.
What I’m about to share are my personal views on some of the U.S. presidential candidates in an election where I’m not eligible to vote. I have friends both in and from the U.S. and whether I like it or not, it will have an impact on my life here in Sweden as well.
With that preamble out of the way here it goes.
No matter how disgusting I find his comments I have to hand it to Donald Trump, he’s played the role of villain very well in my eyes. I understand that in some people’s eyes he represents a candidate who isn’t a part of the establishment. He expresses views that are not popular or socially acceptable, but that a lot of people still hold.
On the other hand, had it not been for Donald Trump these views wouldn’t have so openly expressed. People would’ve still held the same beliefs, just not been open about them.
This is what we’re experiencing at the moment in Sweden. Sverigedemokraterna (Swedish Democrats) is a nationalistic political party with ties to Swedish fascism & the white supremacy movement.
Maybe it was because of the turn in the economy that they went from getting 5,7% of the votes in 2010 to being the third largest party with in the parliament today with 12,9%.
Maybe it’s because they’ve done a good job getting more and more people who didn’t think the party had a chance at any seats to vote in the election, and believe that this party would make their voices heard.
Maybe it’s because too many politicians didn’t address these people’s concerns because they were afraid to touch on the topics of immigration, multiculturalism, and racism.
It might be none of the above or a combination of these and other factors that lead us here. One can only speculate.
The thing is, now we’re here. So what do we do about it?
I was asked a question by a guy whether or not he should vote for a third party candidate since he didn’t want either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
The thing is, I can’t tell you that a vote for a third party candidate is “wasted”. It’s still a vote, and it’s going to be counted. But will there be enough votes that the third option will get a majority and win?
Given past elections it’s highly dubious. This election, you’re probably not going to get the candidate you want. If I were a betting man I’d say that you’re going to get either Clinton or Trump.
Both of the major party candidates have been vilified and have aspects of their character that are unlikable.
So, if you can’t get your ideal candidate. Which one would benefit you more? Which one would benefit your family, friends, and colleagues more?
Which would be better for your friends in Sweden, Japan, Syria or South Africa?
You see, I want Trump to play the villain. I want him to expose what people really think and feel, I want him to shoot from the hip and change the way politicians listen and speak to people, I want him to almost succeed.
But there’s the catch. I want him to almost succeed. I do not want him to actually succeed.
I want to live in a world where unpopular beliefs can be shared and heard, and I want to live in a world where the consequences of those beliefs don’t end up hurting people.
That world exists in the movies.
In the real world I might be able to go on with my life regardless, I’m white and get to enjoy those privileges. However, the cost of having those beliefs heard is paid by people I know.
Looking back at the past 6 years in Swedish politics I can say that we might not get the government we want, but we do get the government we deserve.
When we get complacent, shy away from addressing people’s concerns, and only show up to condemn their views, we’re breeding resentment. It will come back to bite us in the ass.
Because we will make irrational decisions when we feel backed into a corner. We will put our trust in people who express the things we’re feeling, however misguided those feelings may be. We will make short term decisions that have long lasting impact on not only ourselves but the people we love and care for.
It’s hard for us to admit that those decisions are often fueled by fear. Fear of uncertainty.
When we’re faced with uncertainty, even the choice of pain is preferable.
In the stories the big bad wolf doesn’t win. He might huff, and puff, and blow your house down or eat you alive. But in the end he’s either boiled or cut open by the hunter.
Real life isn’t like that.
In real life the big bad wolf gets to do a lot of damage before a hero comes along and changes things. Sometimes it takes two elections, sometimes more.
Once the votes are counted and a new president is sworn in, there’s not a whole lot to do about that.
But every day you can make small choices. You can have those tough conversations with people you disagree with. You can engage with politicians. You can work to spread the word about the changes you want to see.
You can do work in your community to minimize the impact of whoever is elected, and increase the odds that what you believe in is represented on the ballot next time.
Whether you believe Trump, Clinton, or a third party candidate is the “big bad wolf” you can’t change things after the fact. What they’ve done is to expose something that you feel is wrong with the way things are.
But you can still cast your vote in this election, and hopefully there’s something you can do to right whatever is wrong in the coming 4 years.
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Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!