At one time this question would have been absurd. However in recent years, “nice quiet guy” often fits the rapist profile. What’s going on here? How come so many evil people in our world? And by the way, what is evil…?
First of all, evil is not what many think it is. It’s not simply rapacious monsters like Caligula, Hitler, Stalin and Mao. First, those monsters were children. Children loved by their family and friends, and who never thought of themselves as anything but good.
Good…? Yes, each of them and other monstrous figures throughout history saw themselves as good people in pursuit of good causes. My wife, an experienced Chicago actress, used to argue with cast members who wondered how she felt “playing so many bad people.” Her answer was: “I like them.” To get into their character she couldn’t play-them-as-bad. Bad people always operate from a personal core which tells them they are good. Exactly as you and me. How else does anyone survive?
A friend of mine grew up in Nazi Germany as a child. Because he lived near the home of Eva Braun, he would frequently meet “Auntie Eva” and her visitor friend “Uncle Adolf.” That’s right, he remembers the Berlin monster as a quiet old fella with candy in his pockets. Off the stage of history, the monster was a pussycat from my friend’s 10-year-old perspective. And we assume from “Auntie Eva’s” as well.
That doesn’t excuse a shred of his monstrosity or the his monstrous actions. And yet it does allow a look behind the curtains. Ask any psychiatrist. We all see ourselves — surely want to see ourselves — as good people in a world where not everyone is good enough to realize this. Which is one reason why millions in the crowd once cheered these monsters. And why dozens on the block once had backyard conversations with “the nice quiet guy.”
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