The Role of Fantasy Time: Part 2 Villains

Yesterday, in the first of these two blogs on Fantasy Time, we looked at various fantasy worlds and the role that they played in our lives.  If you have not read this blog, I encourage you to go back and read it as it is a prelude to what we are going to discuss now.  Today, I would like to look at the role that the villains in these various fantasy worlds seem to play in our lives. Specifically, I would like to answer the questions:  “Why do we always have an evil villain who wants to destroy our fantasy world?   Why can’t we just have our fantasy worlds and let them remain peaceful and happy?”  Before we turn to this most important question, let’s take a brief look to see what traits define evil our various villains. What if anything, do the Devil, Voldemort, Mordred, Sauron and Captain Hook all have in common?  It is too easy to say that they are just evil and let it rest at that.  However, we often define evil as someone who murders or takes another’s life and in all of the stories I have read on the devil, I have not found one wherein he actually murders anyone.  The devil seems to be content to steal souls and let his henchmen do the dirty deeds.  This is not so with our other villains. 
I believe there are three traits that define each of the villains I have described.  The first is Megalomania.  This is described in the Free Dictionary as:
1. A psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence.
2. An obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions.
Each of our villains is dissatisfied with their role in life. As powerful as each one of them is, they want more.  There can never be enough for them as the thought of sharing power with anyone is beyond their conception or desire.  They have a fanatical drive to achieve power at any cost.
The second trait is a complete lack of moral scruples.  Each of our villains will lie, steal, cheat, double deal or in some cases murder to achieve their goals.  There are no commandments or moral precepts in their lives.  They subscribe to no moral or ethical codes and any laws or contracts are meaningless to them.  They make the laws to fit the situation and they break the laws when and if they desire to. 
 
The third trait is the capstone.  The first two traits alone would probably describe many people who do not go on to become major villains.  History is full of people who were megalomaniacs without any moral or ethical scruples.  There is something more unique about Mordred, Sauron, the Devil and Voldemort.  Captain Hook does not quite belong in this group. The third trait is Power.  Each of our villains already has a tremendous amount of power, more than any other human being around them but it is not enough.  They want all of the power in the universe for their own.  They are not content to share power with anyone else, even God.  
So having defined what makes an evil villain, why do we need them?  Why do we create them in our world?  What role or purpose do they serve?  They must serve a purpose or why do we create them, for create them we do.  Some of the arguments I have heard are:
  •  Evil defines good, without evil we would not know good
  • We need evil to have a challenge in our lives
  • Without evil, life would be boring and humdrum
  •  Evil always exists because it is born from free will
  • Humans are inherently evil
  • There is no evil, we only label things as evil
To digress for a minute, have you ever heard of the good girl/bad boy syndrome.  This is a condition that seems to afflict many women who almost subconsciously seem to be attracted to “bad boys.”  Many times this brings pain and suffering but such women will go right back out and find another “bad boy.”  Men have a similar affliction.  It is called the good girl/bad girl condition.  Men say they want to marry a woman “just like mom” but are then attracted to the woman who has more of the devil in her than angel.  So for both sexes, there is a curious attraction to the dark side of life.  Perhaps this is the same attraction that afflicted Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.  I note these syndromes not only because they are so common but I think they speak to the question of why we need our villains in life.  Perhaps they provide a purpose that might otherwise be missing.  
I have heard that in heaven, you get to visit with God all day long and sit and worship him.  I don’t know about you, but I do know that Jesus’s 12 apostles could not even sit and worship with him for one hour.  I can’t imagine many people sitting all day long, day after day worshipping anyone.  In fact, in about ten minutes, a fight in heaven would probably erupt between some worshippers.  I can hear the beginning of the fight now “I was sitting next to God and you took my seat.”  “I was worshipping God but you were worshipping so loud, he could not hear me.”  “It not fair, you know more good worship words than I do.”  “God always liked you best.”  I mean can you imagine all of the people on the earth who ever lived just sitting around worshipping God all day long?  I can sell you a nice bridge in Brooklyn cheap.
So enter evil.  “Let’s just get something going around here to spice things up.”  If you have ever taught school, you will notice that your “evil” students are simply bored.  It’s amazing how much “evil” these bored students can introduce into the classroom.   So Superman needs his Lex Luther, Batman needs his Joker, Spider Man needs his Green Goblin and we all need someone to help put some spice into our lives.  Perhaps we get carried away with creating these villains and get more then we bargained for.  Our stories, lives, habits and even goals are strongly influenced by what we deem as evil.  Go to the book store, either online or in print and a majority of the books deal with serial killers or with romance novels wherein the good girl is attracted to the bad boy.  
So what is the answer to the question I initially posed?  Why do we need villains?  I think the better question, is how do we create a world in which we can live without them? 
Osho says: 
·         A totally different attitude is needed: the attitude of love. Christ brings love to the world. He destroys law, the very basis of it. That was his crime; that’s why he was crucified — because he was destroying the whole basis of this criminal society; he was destroying the whole foundation rock of this criminal world, the world of wars, and violence, and aggression. He gave a totally new foundation stone.
·         As you become more conscious of your cruelty, of your violence, gross and subtle, you start becoming more and more compassionate. Not that you cultivate compassion. Just by becoming aware of your cruelty, violence, ugliness… the very awareness brings new changes in you. And the energy that was involved in cruelty, in violence, starts changing. The same energy becomes purified, the same energy becomes compassion.
I think a goal for all of us might be to create these conditions in ourselves where we do not need the ultimately addicting but fatal stimulation of violence and hatred.  Perhaps once we have done this, we will not need to develop a purpose that relies on war and death and destruction.  We can create a purpose to build and develop and sustain.  Perhaps one day, we will not need evil villains to help define our lives. 
What villains have had the most influence on your life?  Could you live a life without a villain in it?  Are you attracted to the dark side?  How do you find the goals you need to make your life happy and productive?  Do you need to be in conflict too often?  Is your life more or less peaceful now than it was ten years ago?  How do you share your peace with others?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bgalbreath
    Mar 28, 2012 @ 22:09:21

    “As you become more conscious of your cruelty, of your violence, gross and subtle, you start becoming more and more compassionate.”

    I have long accepted what the Roman poet, Terence, said: “Nothing human is foreign to me.” Perhaps I have an unusually supple imagination, but, when people talk about “senseless violence” or about how they cannot understand what someone has done, I can almost always quickly tell myself a story in which I find myself doing that supposedly unthinkable thing. Seeing how I myself could have gotten there does awaken something like compassion, and it quenches vindictiveness. As a French proverb has it, “to understand everything is to forgive everything.”
    However, there is another side. As Maimonides put it, ““He who is compassionate to the cruel
    will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate.” Just because we can understand how a destructive, violent person may have become the way he is, just because we see him as a victim of the circumstances that formed him, just because we see that we are not essentially different from him, does not mean we do nothing to block his continuing on his destructive path. If all else fails, we may wind up killing him in personal or social self-defense. But this need not be combined with hating him or denying his humanity.

    Reply

  2. John Persico
    Dec 16, 2012 @ 00:33:10

    Can you really understand why someone would shoot 20 elementary school children? I can see violence in myself but in terms of self defence not needlessly attacking those who pose to threat to my well being. How does anyone's mind perceive elementary school kids as a threat?

    Reply

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