Monday, December 2, 2013

Black Friday Demons

I don't like Black Friday, the day, not my short story I wrote last week.

I'm serious about that too, and I thought about writing about my thoughts on that, why I find it horrid and hypocritical and disgusting and...

Yes, but I don't like going down that negative route I think.  Doesn't make for a good thing, or at least, it doesn't accomplish the right thing.  Instead, I'm going to do a brief musing on the nature of greed, demons and human thoughts about human nature.

I consider myself a Humanist- that means the one thing I always believe in, that I have faith in, is Humanity.  We can make ourselves better- we can do the right thing, and we are always improving.  That's my leap of faith I make every time I say 'but not everyone' or 'everyone isn't like that.'  I believe that human beings are inherently altruistic beings.

That said, though, it gets easy to look at the current way things work and get pessimistic or have doubts.  In the United States, we pioneer a culture of consumer waste and greed that often leaves us assuming the worst in our fellow man.  And we are easily moved to think that the person who is better off, is more likely to be evil in some regard rather than a human being who thinks they've done all the right things to get what they have.

One can look at greed and its nature, and call it a 'necessary evil.'  That's Adam Smith's idea behind capitalism, after all- the hand of greed in human beings balancing and cancelling out.  That's a oversimplification, but the point I'm trying to point out is that humans know greed is an evil- even when some of us try to construe it otherwise- and that its evil we have to deal with.

This touches onto the nature of Demons.  Demons are sins personified, but that doesn't not make them the creators of it- maleficent spirits that spawn evil is the classic idea.  But that can't be true because we humans created the idea of Demons.  The story of the demon that possesses the hero or tempts the villain or drives the greed of such and such... these all are creations of human imagination.  We made them up, so demons can't be the ultimate creators of that same sin.

But they can serve as a metaphor to understand our cultural and psychological ties to specific things we call evils in our culture.  And in being metaphors, these demons can serve us, forcing us to stare into the wicked mirror we fear we have or will become.  Modern demons often are the utter evil, unsympathetic villains- we tend to think of Nazis or malevolent aliens or men in black suits out to get us.  The big evil corporation, its tentacles reaching out to strangle us.

 I touched on this in my story Black Friday, but greed and the demons we create of it spawn out of a good intention.  Our intention is to provide, to make sure we and those we care about have what we think they deserve.  And every human being wants to have what we think we and those we care about have what they deserve.

Greed comes out of that.

And... perhaps the frightening part of the story, is that the demons of our stories know this.  Super villains and other characters in modern fiction often claim that what they do, what drives them to do what evil they do is 'to fix the world we live in, because its falling apart.'  We relate to that.

Subconsciously, we know the world is going into pieces.  Falling apart.  Dying.  We recognize that.  The demons we can imagine know that.  Our demons know that our own greed has driven our own world to a brink.

When you look at the demons of greed in your own stories and creativity, do you blink?  Do you deny them?  Do you try to keep that frightening truth away one more day?

I try to embrace my demons, if only to learn the horrific message they try to tell me.  Its part of how I try to live up to my own interpretation of what being human means.