New Year's Retribution

I get a bad rap as a nice guy, but really I'm a monster. Oh sure, you may *see* a kind and considerate person on the outside, but boy, get on my bad side and you'll unleash a ruthless fury of Keyser Sozian proportions.

Only not really. I've noticed that most folks, for whatever reason, like to think of ourselves as secret bad-asses. Not the noisy, belligerent biker type, who picks fights for the fun of it, but a *secret* bad-ass: Chuck Norris in tennis shoes instead of boots, perhaps, or Slightly Soiled Harry.

In every household, there are favorite family stories of kindly grandmothers who nonetheless became beasts at opportune moments, shy retiring youth ministers somehow able to summon a tsunami of malice in an instant when provoked.

I think I see why. These bits of lore make good stories because of the irony, the surprise. The "mouse that roared" is a familiar and humorous archetype, reminding us "nothing is as it seems" and there's always potential for people to do what you'd least expect.

And that's cool. Theoretically. But this year I've been thinking about whether that's a good thing or not. I'm thinking now that glamorizing vengeance might be, oh, a little less than healthy.

Perhaps we should look at our potential to inflict harm as something to work against, not brag about. So in 2009, that's my plan. And if you'd like to join me in this effort, go right ahead.

Put aside the fantasy that your everyday, compassionate self is just a thin veneer. If everyone who knows you considers you more or less kind, gentle and non-sociopathic, you may as well just admit it: you're a decent human being.

And this year, I say let's embrace it.

1 comment:

Hello, I'm Ryan Noel. said...

Man, I'm totally guilty of this. Not wanting to take ownership for my own shortfalls, I want to find someone to blame. I'm choosing to blame all the girls in Jr High that chose to make eyes at the "bad boys," while I sipped milk out of a mini-carton and made eyes at them.