“He who fights monsters should take care not to become one” – Nietzsche
Or, in the immortal (and more succinct) words of the Spawn comic villain Malebolgia, “We become the things we hate.”And I fear that the comic character/philosopher may be right.
My brother Ben has never been a big people person. He would tell me how much he hates people, how idiotic they are. Then he told me he was training to become an EMT. He still hates most people by default, yet he intends to help those people. Ben passed his final test with stellar grades on Saturday, the twelfth of December. I have never seen my ever-sulky brother so excited, even when we went to see Judas Priest. The strangest thing is that his opinions haven’t changed. I am happy for him, but this almost scares me. How can someone base a potentially life-changing decision on feelings so contrary to those he has held for so long? And what about me? Am I going to become something I hate? Will I end up a cubicle worker, with a white picket fence, a small house in the suburbs populated by 2.3 children, a dog, and a boring wife, complete with a feeling of dull, empty, and never-ending frustration? Will I become just another faceless, nameless statistic?
I would rather eat broken glass. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. I believe that once you realize how you may change in the future, you can do something about it. Knowing what I may become one day drives me to be otherwise. I have always held a vehement disdain for all those who are satisfied with a life of mediocrity, who are willing to hate themselves and their humdrum lives. I disdain those willing to never leave their mark on the world, those willing to be forgotten and disappear into obscurity. That is a boring life for boring people. That is not a life I want for myself. No, siree, anonymity is not for me. I keep the philosopher’s words in mind whenever I teach, train, learn, and act. I will not disappear.
“We become the things we hate,” said the monster to the hero, “destroy me and you will become me.”
I make it a point to not listen to monsters.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.