One the best insights into human character did not come from a college or seminary professor, a minister or wise political leader (seriously, there may be some of those out there). It came from someone who creates characters for comic books – graphic novels as they are known now. The insight? The most evil and believable villains are those who think they are doing God and the world a favor.
It makes sense. Who grows up deciding to be the villain in history? From each person’s point of view there is a wrong that needs to be righted. The problem is that the perception of the wrong and the cause and cure are not necessarily shared reality.
Some examples: People are rapidly using up the earth’s nonrenewable resources. Perception: The world is overcrowded. Is the cure to decimate the masses of poor people crowded together in slums or to cut back on the consumption of the rich?
The information revolution has allowed words and pictures to be seen uncensored. Instructions for building nuclear weapons and videos of the most intimate sexual activity are available on the internet. Perception: Evil is increasing. Is the cure to criminalize free speech or to pull the plug on the internet to protect the public?
We will always have differing views from someone at some time. The differences most often can be resolved by coming to an understanding of the other person’s point of view. Not surprisingly, the ultimate goals of opposing groups are the same. Peace and prosperity are quite popular with everybody.
Often the differences are not the perceived problem, nor the ultimate goal, but only the path to the goal. Those paths are untrod. All futures are. But when our enemies become our co-workers for a better tomorrow, today is much better. That won’t sell many graphic novels, but I still think we ought to try it.