I tell T that this house is a monster-free zone. There are no monsters here. Ever.
I do not tell him that there is no such thing as a monster, because I don’t believe that’s true. Holmes and Sandusky are just a couple of the monsters floating in our consciousness lately. Whenever there’s some horrible tragedy like what happened in Colorado, there’s always a public impulse to assign blame, to cast about for reasons, to connect the dots and come up with a picture that makes sense.
My feeling is that there are monsters in the world. There always have been and there always will be. The most satisfying explanation I’ve found for it is in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. In the beginning of the tale, a demon mirror shatters into a million pieces. Some of these splinters lodge in people’s eyes or hands or hearts and compel them to darkness. I think the monsters among us have a demon mirror shard so big lodged in their hearts that there isn’t room for anything else. That’s the best I can do. I can think about it all day long, but I will never truly be able to emotionally comprehend a mass murderer or a child molester.
A bigger concern of mine are the Joe Paternos of the world. The people who are not monsters per se, but stand by and are complicit with monstrous actions. The people who compromise their ethics in service of money, fame or fear. It’s easy for me to point a finger at the people who let those boys be raped, raped, in the name of winning a game. That’s an easy one. But there are murky ethical waters in my life, too. Ways in which I’m complicit with injustice, ignorance, bigotry, waste. Often it’s because I’m lazy, or greedy, or ambitious. Or just too concerned with what other people think.
There are no monsters in this house, true. But I want to do better than that for my kid. I want it to be a house of heroes. If we’re going to go toe to toe with the monsters, we need to be.