Think back on your favorite book or your favorite movie, and I’d be willing to bet there was one mighty aggravating character you just loved to hate.
I’ve come to realize that real life is sort of like that.
Remember Nellie Olsen on Little House on the Prairie? There was never a more hateable character than that little know-it-all. But, the series likely would have been pretty boring without her, always kicking dirt in Laura’s face in one way or another.
Villains give us a reason to want to cheer for the good guy, or the little guy or the shy guy. Villains give us that fire-in-the-belly desire to seek justice in all sorts of ways.
Adrenaline. My all-time favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird in which Atticus Finch defends an obviously innocent black man in the closed-minded deep South.
Author Harper Lee knew how to spin a great tale, filled with a pseudo-villain, Boo Radley, who turned out to be the good guy in the end.
I was only in seventh grade when I read the book for the first time. My imagination was set afire in reading about the spooky recluse neighbor man who likely dined on all the squirrels he could catch with his bare hands.
The children were warned to stay away from that Radley house, or they would pay a severe price with their very lives.
Of course, this was reason enough for Scout and Jem Finch to dare one another to sneak in through the backyard and touch the spooky-looking Radley house before darting away, their hearts surely thumping with that rush of adrenaline only such feats bring.
Helpful. We humans tend to think we want easy, straight-and-narrow arrows as our friends and neighbors.
I have learned that sometimes the worst of the lot can prompt growth and change in a way the best of allies could never bring about.
Think Laura Ingalls, for instance. If she had never been challenged with the closed-minded arrogance and ignorance of Nellie Olsen, Laura’s life would have been too tranquil for words. Boring!
Embrace diversity. What a wonderful phrase!
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