I used to doodle with my pen in my notebooks during class. It was usually a dog or a flamingo - even if it wasn’t nothing to write (or draw) home about. While perfecting every fur strand or feather, I wondered about the cruelty of nature and how that relates to humans. Animals aren’t expected to treat each other kindly, like people. A crocodile can kill their prey and feel no guilt, remorse, or shame. Humans are the only mammals who suffer psychologically from conditions that result from immorality. Stories are a part of what make us human. We share religious symbolism, fables, myths, ghost stories, fairytales, anecdotes, rumours, gossip, and superstitious beliefs. There is everything from uplifting stories to scary stories. When stories are more difficult to comprehend, we label characters as a way to absolve ourselves from humanity’s entire story, including its’ horrors. Monsters in the closet don’t scare us as much as the monsters that look like us; the humans treating other human beings as a predator would treat his prey. These people become little in our eyes. Monsters shrink.
“As a child I never imagined that all of the real monsters in the world would be humans.”
- Mobeen Hakeen
I’m currently reading about The Social Dominance Theory and how our prejudices are influenced by our Social Dominance Orientation. The theory concludes that the amount of people who are on both ends of the ideological scale counterbalances forces that stabilize group-based inequalities. The monster of humanity is essentially required to maintain order. Everyone has a different kind of monster. Autistic children being the sensitive beings they are don’t understand the monster of neurotypicals which causes a deep confusion towards cruelty, backbiting, and manipulation. It was distressing for me to see other kids hurting others, especially in environments that taught kindness. Causing intentional harm wasn’t something I could relate to, so I instinctively categorized bullies as ‘other’. Paradoxically, autistic girls have an over-abundance of hyper-empathy for those who persecuted them/ others. I could sense a bully’s insecurities but couldn’t understand how they projected that onto others, as I had always projected mine onto myself. I was conflicted with hosting two opposing feelings in tension. I’ve always tried to consider the humanity of a person who’s humane side wasn’t apparent to me. I wanted to love them from afar by maintaining that they were not like me, despite them being human too. Their capacity to reason makes them human. Monsters think.
“Dr. Angelou noted that anything another human does, for good or ill, you have the same capacity to do as you too are human. She noted that to say “I would never do that” takes away the humanity of the person who did the action. What we need to say instead is “I hope I am never driven to do that.” Allowing a person, as horrible as their actions are, to still be seen as a human helps us to stop putting them in the category of ‘other.’ Seeing people as being complicated can perhaps allow us to experience the compassion that can help us, and potentially others, grow.”
- Frank Gaskill on Dr. Angelou
When I see the beauty of someone’s soul, I want to clench onto every ounce of it, no matter how little there is. Sometimes, the human aspects of someone I see as a ‘monster’ aren’t so much traces of love, but traces of a cry for love. The non-existence of good, evil, derives from a need for love that wasn’t satiated. Still, I have my moments of despair when I struggle with relating to the way someone expresses their lack of love. I see evil when I should close my eyes. Monsters blink.
“You must not see evil as evil and then compromise with your opinion, for to treat in a smooth, kindly way one whom you consider evil or an enemy is hypocrisy, and this is not worthy or allowable.”
- Abdu’l Bahá
The first time I ever heard about a cult was when I was 8 years old. My mother warned me about The Hare Krishnas telling me to avoid religious groupings where all the men were bald.
Me: Does that mean that cousin so-and-so is a Krishna?
Mom: No sweetie, he just went bald early!
She couldn’t stop laughing. Thinking back, that cult should’ve been called ‘No Hair Krishna’. Perhaps that’s where my avoidance of bald men stems from. No offense to bald men whatsoever. Plus science says bald men are more intelligent, successful, and masculine... so ya’ll have that going for you. If being attracted to good hair makes me superficial (super’follicule), so be it. Ever since being taught about cults, I became fascinated with what happens when something that is suppose to bring harmony gets manipulated to do bad. My prof asked our class how 9/11 shaped our views on religion, and our responses were just as varied as the hair on our heads, or lack thereof. My special interest in spirituality has led me to seriously consider an eventual career as a de-radicalization counsellor. This idea was planted in my head after my ex told me that his masters research paper was done on the radicalization of prison inmates. Me being the curious little monster that I am, questioned how to recapture the human drowning beneath these man-made monsters. Monsters sink.
“ With guns you can kill terrorists, with education you can kill terrorism.”
- Malala Yousafzai
Someone asked me the other day if there was any practical use at all for our lower nature; our monsters. My response was that it’s necessary for procreation, being able to know good from bad (dichotomy), the blessing of being able to appreciate life’s vainer pleasures, and dark humour to handle the difficult aspects of life. Sometimes it’s the idling lower nature of a monster that can make them more relatable, on some level. Osama Bin Laden’s interests ranged from enjoying cartoon movies such as Chicken Little, to porn. Monster’s kink.
“When you study terrorist groups, that’s always what’s striking to people, the kind of quirky, human side of them,”
- Dan Byman, professor at Georgetown University
I mean, maybe the guy had an infidel fetish. I don’t know. I don’t judge. Actually, I do judge, but not in the same way you do. Sometimes I catch myself being judgemental of someone being judgemental. The irony is real. I have to check myself regularly when I’m tempted to fall into the trap of considering myself better than someone because they possess a different monster than mine, or for having a bigger monster. An even more seemingly impossible task, to see those who have harmed someone you love as an equal. For the longest time I hated someone I considered to be a monster, until years later, I witnessed a glimpse of compassion in this person. I felt guilty for ever wondering if they deserved love themselves and asked myself if I'd become one of them. Monsters sync.
“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
What we consider monstrous acts were normal once upon a time. My grade 11 history teacher always drilled it into my head that we should never judge social mores of today with those of the past, because they are of a different era of social evolution. A black friend of mine once commented that had we known each other 100 years ago, I would have been racist towards her. I was offended and responded “I’ve never been one to follow the crowd. I’m stubborn now, I would have been stubborn then.” Still, the thought of what could have been scared me. The reality of what humans can be scares us - scaring before being scared seems to be a popular coping mechanism. Others use substances to escape their frightening emotions. Monsters drink.
“I act scary, but most of the time, I’m scared.”
- Sully, Monsters Inc.
The way we each have a little monster inside of us that is scared is a part of what makes us human. Every person wants to make monstrous strides in the world - whether it’s being able to purchase a monster-house, cure diseases that affect cookie-monsters, or protecting society from monsters. Instead of mass-marketing Monster energy drinks and coffee, we should use the little energy we do have to slay the biggest monster of all; ignorance. I have an inkling that more love can prevent bloodshed from rewriting history. Monster’s ink.