It’s not an excuse or a justification.
It’s simply a fact.
As a creator of fiction, one of my jobs is to make a story make sense.
At times I’m sure this is my primary motivation for writing: to have a place where stories make sense. As in, now.
Villains aren’t just evil to make life difficult for the main character; that’s too narrow a purpose. That’s living for someone else, and far too selfless for the best villains as I imagine them.
~ ~ ~
Antagonist is a more broadly applicable word than villain.
Most of us will not encounter a terrifying villain, in the same way that most of us will not change the world in any masses-remembered way.
I’m just talking statistics here. How many people do you remember of the billions that have come before?
And many, many people face villains the way that many people make a difference in a way known only to few.
How widely something is known does not change the power or significance of what we experience.
Antagonists may be out specifically to hurt us, for reasons of their own, or they may simply be thinking of themselves, pursuing their own goals, and we get run over in the process.
I highly doubt the individual who stole my iPhone last week heard my nutrition talk, took personal offense at my content or my speaking style and decided to take my phone to spite me.
Far more likely is the scenario when s/he saw the cracked thing in its dirty case, unattended, and decided it was worth taking.
Really it had nothing to do with me, personally, but it has seriously disrupted my life, and disappointed me (in no small measure because it was taken at a gathering of Christians).
Yes we’re allowed to be disappointed. That we’re warned doesn’t mean our feelings and reactions are tied.
What we’re left with is how we will respond to the hurt that comes into our lives.
Because if we’ve been hurt, we have hurt other people.
This is really hard to think about when we’ve been hurt really badly.
We see and feel our own hurt, and depending on many things, our own hurt can be big enough that it fills up all our available vision.
We might not see what we are doing to others, and what’s even sadder, we might not care.
The reason I call this even sadder is that this attitude (I’ve been hurt so much I shouldn’t have to be careful.) frequently drives the next iteration of wounding.
The fact is, we’re all hurt. And that ties us to the truth that we have hurt others. May still be in the process of hurting others.
And ignoring this reality won’t make it go away.
Two responses I see are necessary: awareness and humility.