I’m only a man with a candle to guide me
I’m taking a stand to escape what’s inside me
A monster, a monster
I’ve turned into a monster
A monster, a monster
And it keeps getting stronger
IMAGINE DRAGONS, MONSTERS
For as long as I’ve been in this world (22 years this November) I’ve tried to place people into neat little boxes. I might be guilty of labelling, but it’s always easier for me to deal with people once I’ve decided which box they belong to. For example, when I was in High school, I saw people in the following shades : the popular ones (who I talked about rock bands with), the geeks (who I talked about books with), the sluts (who I talked about sex with), the jocks (who I talked about T-20 cricket with) the brown-nosers ( preferred to let them continue with their ass-kissing unrumbled) and the quiet ones (sat silently next to). As I grew older the shades diversified : the shammers – those who were in college simply to get a degree, the ambitious – those who were brilliant in academics and aspired for good jobs, the undecided – those who sat in class and looked confused as to why they were in class to begin with. (I’ve drifted from one category to another from time to time)
Lately, my point of view has transformed into something more cynical.
Now I see people of two kinds and two kinds only : Those who have it good and those who have it bad. There are some people who’re high-flyers, financially comfortable, physically fit, emotionally whole, living the life that at least from the outside, seems absolutely perfect. Fame and fortune and looks and all the luck in the world. Out of reach of any moral law, where simply doing something because it’s right is a laughable notion.
And then there’s the other kind. The victims. Those belonging to broken families, with scarred childhoods and terrible back-stories. Survivors of abuse and mental disorders and physical handicaps. Those who keep their heads down and just get on with their lives, struggling to make it day after day, trying so hard not to drown.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower and I’m not claiming to be as perceptive as his character was. I’m somewhere between a wallflower and a lampshade.
When I was younger and a bit more naïve than I am today, I often wondered why always the good ones seemed to suffer and why the assholes got away with everything. Why the nice and kind people were quickly overrun by the throng of cold, manipulative and heartless people.
Questions and questions and questions which basically boiled down to one simple, existential question : Why do terrible things happen to some of us?
And then I found an answer of sorts in one of those random, philosophical quotes you run across and save in your memory, without realising the meaning until much later.
A wise man once said :
If a man doesn’t have any problem, he’ll soon become one for you
What I understood, and this may seem like a bit of stretch to some, is that agony is one of the many ways the universe uses to occupy a human being. It’s almost like if we didn’t have too many problems, we’d go around screwing with everyone else. Come to think of it, it isn’t really that ludicrous an idea. As long as we have our own problems, our own struggles, our own strife, we couldn’t and wouldn’t dare try and mess with anybody else. At least it got me wondering, if I weren’t so sad and miserable all the time……would I go around making others sad and miserable?
Is it good if it’s bad?
It’s almost like when life is good, we don’t have the decency to keep it that way. When things are going our way, how many of us stick to our morals or our ethics? If there’s no consequence, no karma, aren’t we so far gone, so morally corrupt, that we care little about the privileges we’ve been given and even less about the damage we cause to others?
If we’d never been in pain, would we get it when someone else was? Would we learn to sympathise or understand? Or would we continue to harbour the character trait of alexithymia : the inability to deal with intense emotions like pain, empathy and intuition?…… Questions, questions and more questions.
I’m more inclined towards the idea that we are, in fact, incapable of kindness unless we have suffered cruelty. If everything’s alright, everything’s fantastic, there’s absolutely no need to help those who aren’t having the best of times. We honestly don’t give a damn about others when we’re having a good time. We get away with a lot of terrible things, because let’s face it, who’s got the time to be the moral police. But suddenly, when the walls start closing in, things start falling apart, we do this volte-face where we’re behaving like little cherubs : sensible and sober and responsible.
We don’t learn what’s right unless something goes wrong.
We call ourselves human, yet the only way we discover our humanity is when we’ve witnessed something inhuman.
It reminds me of that fable about the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Given the right catalyst, and the perfect opportunity, it doesn’t take very long for us to throw off our innocent, faux sheep skin and unleash the beast inside.
The trick is to get away with it.
And that leaves me with the last burning question, one that keeps me up at night.
Are we human?
Or are we, in fact, monsters?