Heroes and Villains

One of my favourite things about a good story is the character development. I love it when I can watch someone in the story growing and changing and learning as the circumstances they face force them to make decisions and live with the consequences of their mistakes or taste the rewards of their sacrifices. Some of my favourite characters in literature are far from perfect, but they reflect our common humanity and they teach me something about how our personal character—for good or for evil—is forged slowly in the furnace of decisions. Even our small, daily choices will be motivated and directed either towards a love for self above all, or a love for God that expresses itself in love for others. Over time, these choices shape us. These choices make us. That’s what I was thinking about when I wrote this triple poem (is a triple poem even a thing? Anyway, it is now):

Heroes and Villains

In the best sorts of stories
The good guys are good
And the bad guys are bad
But not quite completely—
They both have a bit of the other inside them
Their vices and virtues mixed up and combined in
Their choices we see them turn this way or that
As their character forms in the flow of the plot
As decisions add up and compound and expand
And this is how heroes—and villains—are made


Real villains
Hardly ever
See themselves
As something evil
They see themselves
More like the hero
In an epic quest for glory
Autobiographic story
Of their greatness and achievements
If it causes some bereavements
That’s the price that must be paid
For the world that must be made
Into the image of ambition
No one’s asking for permission
What’s required is submission
To this righteous cause and mission

Or else.


Real heroes
Hardly ever
See their actions
As heroics
They just cannot live
Inside a lie
When something’s wrong
They can’t stand by
They can’t just hide
Or compromise
Not even when the stakes are high
Not even if they lose their lives
They don’t sign up for sacrifice
They simply love what’s good and right
And that is all.

And that’s enough.

2 thoughts on “Heroes and Villains”

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