Over at the Carnvial of the Feminist
(which everyone should check out, by the way, because it's wonderful) people are discussing relationships that they have with women in their life, particularily their family. And there is a thread that run through it, that I think people ignore a lot:
People are complicated.
Normally, I hate the clichéd(and normally misleading) phrase "on both side of the political aisle" but in this case, it actually is true. People are complicated and it is so easy to forget that, no matter your politcal leanings. We are fed a sugary lie as children, sucking on the empty calories of fairy tales and cartoons. We consume it with in larger qualities and with more garnish growing up so that we are addicted to it when we reach adulthood. This lie is that there are "good guys" and "bad guys". Someone is the ruggedly handsome hero, who represents and protects all that is good and holy in the world, and someone is the evil villian, ugly and decietful who wants to tear down good and glorify the evil. Aside from the obvious spongy nature of what "good" and "evil" is, no body on the face of the earth is like that. No one is completely good, and no one is completely evil.
Consider the recent masaccre at Virginia Tech: Cho Seung-Hui is being painted as a hate-filled, violent man who destroyed innocents and was opposed by a great number of heros.
Cho Seung-Hui is a villian, wheras others like are the clear heros.
Yet, that's wrong. Cho Seung-Hui acted villainous and acted heroic, but they were more than merely archetypes. Perhaps Cho also opened doors for people who had huge packages and gave notes away in class for people who had difficulty with a subject. Maybe liked to ridicule students in class. I know neither of these men, so I couldn't tell you.
Before anyone says it, this does NOT mean to justify or minimize either's actions on the day in question. Merely that any one action itself does not make someone "good" or "evil".
We so desperately want the duality of good and evil. We crave the sureity that it gives us: we want this person to be a sinner and this one to be a saint. We want this person to be a bigot and this person to be an activist. We want to know if we should love or hate someone. Shades of grey annoy us; and complexity overwhelms us. In "The Riches" Minnie Driver's character tearfully says "Do you know how much it hurts to hate the one person you love more than anyone in the world?".
My friends are perfect examples of this: they run the gambit of humanity. Some days I get so frustrated with them I could scream (such is when they ask for the 30th time why giving advice to women to protect themselves from rape is a bad thing). Many days they can be downright cruel to me and each others. Once, I broke down in tears at the table, and they responded by mocking me.
I have been asked many times online why I stay friends with people who share next to no of my political leanings, and more than that, are hostile and apathetic to the idea of activism. Some days, when I am frustrated and would like some more tangible support than what they give me, I think the same thing and vow never to talk to them again.
When an ex-bf dumped me, there was one of my friends with a house to crash at, bottle of Saphire Gin, Spaceballs, and a face that looked the other way when I started to cry so I didn't have to be embarassed.
After watching "The Shining" and being terrified, my completely exhausted friend stayed up talking to me until 4 am and never once asked why I felt the need to ramble about hotels.
The cruelest of my friends never once questioned what possible reason I could have for coming into his dorm room at midnight to silently watch television with him, on the days that I needed to escape my roommates and/or boyfriend.
My friends are neither evil, nor are they saints: they are people. Disturbed people, to be sure, many of them with more mental and emotional baggage than even me, but people none the less.