THE BLOG

The Hero vs. Villain Mentality

07/22/2011 08:48 am ET

I have been told (more than once and not always in a good way) that I'm a pretty passionate person. One of the things I cannot stand in this world is judgment without basis or (worse yet) in God's name (He is probably be REALLY pissed off if His name is being used in such a way). I'm a Republican so I hate Democrats. I live on Main St so I hate Elm St. I am Born Again and everyone else is going to Hell. I'm radical so I get to hate everyone else.

You get the picture. Why we feel a need to spend time spewing venom at people we often do not even know is well beyond my abilities to reason. Hate, frankly, is simply unreasonable in most every situation.

I believe the greatest danger to a global society is our lack of understanding and acceptance. Some may argue power and greed top the list, but I contend they're offshoots of the formers. The lack of understanding and acceptance lead to a desperate shortage of knowledge, kindness and positive communal experience. The resulting travesty brings us to a world of prejudice, neatly formed by heaping doses of ignorance and unnecessary distance. If you understood your fellow man and carried compassion for him in your heart, my guess is you'd be less likely to feel a need to overpower or control him or beat him out or beat him at all.

Societal rejection doesn't have to be racial or religious or gender-based or couched in sexual preference. We can decide to be against any person, persons or group simply because we consider them on some irrational level a threat. We're raised to identify heroes and villains, with the ones on the other team always playing the enemy. One needs only look at our politics to see this played out in Technicolor. Citizens rarely debate issues when talking about a candidate. Instead, they often discuss or create some disparaging thing about the person, not his or her policy. And if you are one party and you're discussing the other, you must tap into their inner villains to feel superior, which means you're really tapping into yours.

The real problem with the whole hero vs. villain mentality is that it can easily lose its place in reality. Anyone who has ever seen the Boston Red Sox play the New York Yankees have witnessed instances where average people lose their grips on reality. Anyone who has seen a brawl at a youth football game or seen a parent come out of the stands to argue a call in Little League has been exposed to the vilifying of another person or group.

Unfortunately, in our society, somewhere we're getting the message that when people don't agree with us they're not only wrong but evil. They simply don't just have another opinion, but instead are rotten to the core. Modus Vivendi is a favorite Latin phrase, if I were to pick one. Literally translated, it means "freedom of perspective." Modus Vivendi in spirit means "an agreement between those who agree to differ."

Because our society attaches an inherent shame to losing, less than ethical people have a win at all costs mentality. Whatever it takes, be first. Anyone who has ever worked in Hollywood, like I have, has seen the quintessential example of the mentality, where many would race you to hell to say they got there first.

When it's all about the end result and not how you got there, the world can become a pretty messed up place. We don't have laws for those who would never think to break them, but for those who would.

People who tell the truth do so because they prefer the truth, as it is what they know to be right. People who lie tell the truth do so when they feel they can. Greed and power and control do weird things to people who have a propensity for dishonesty, as it's been since the days of Cain and Abel.

Whereas Eastern philosophies emphasize human similarities, western culture thrives on differences. We'd be better served to find our common ground rather than mark off the parts of life for which we claim sole ownership.

Why does peace scare us? Why do we want to tear down rather than create? We need to leave poor God out of this one. It's something we need to ask ourselves.