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Oct 1, 2009

shades of grey

Dean, my 114 teacher, is a masterful man.

Sometimes his lectures are filled with comments like,
"There'll be H to pay."
"Oh, I thought you were special, but you're just like everyone else."
"It's like that movie, Remember to be the Titians."
"When I don't know what to do I usually just watch a western."

But other times he is overwhelmingly profound.
Perhaps its the contrast that makes both sides of his lecture so full of impact.
Yesterday we were talking about Psychological Narrative.
He was saying how it is unethical to create characters you don't love. We are done with the days of melodrama where bad guys are all bad. That is not how humans work.

It is so convenient to say, "That person is doing bad things, they must be a bad person."
But there is no such thing as a bad person. We are designed to be good.
Then he said, starting to choke up, that you simply cannot criticize a character until you love them.

He said it in the context of movies and other forms of literature we read and create.
But I think more importantly this applies to the people around us.
We cannot judge the people we see in passing, the people we hear rumors about.
The only way we are justified in criticizing is if it's in the form of loving support.

We have to constantly fight the instinct to put labels on people and oversimplify their personalities. The ex-boyfriend isn't inherently scum. The best friend who stabbed us in the back isn't Satan. The boy/girl that broke our heart/stole our girlfriend/boyfriend/called us names/ran over our dog probably just had a moment of poor judgment.

The person we think is not living the right way is not going straight to Hell.

Life is more complicated than an hour and a half movie.
Just keep that in mind.
(and I will too, as much as I think I'm living in the Truman Show sometimes)

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