There's always a villain

So I'm in the shower today, thinking about nonsense, and it occurs to me that in life there always has to be a villain. I've seen this in other people's lives and seen it in my own life too: there's always someone we identify as the persecutor, the person that's holding us back. As individuals, we identify people, even friends, and turn against them. As groups, we can identify other groups who are oppressing us. The Republicans villainize the Democrats, who villainize them back. The Jews and Arabs villainize each other. Children and parents, husbands and wives, neighbors, coworkers, the list goes on and on.

That's not to say that people never do bad things and that it's all in our head. No, people fuck up and act like assholes. But when need to have someone in the villain role, you run the danger of keeping them there without cause. You also make it harder for yourself to see and appreciate acts of goodwill that disrupt your perception of their villain status thanks to confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. You also run the risk of overreacting to things to put someone (innocent) in the villain role.

Why do we do this? I can think of three reasons. One, it gives us an identity and something meaningful to do with our lives, which can often seem empty. Two, it strengthens bonds with other people who are on the in-group: friends, partners, comrades, parties, nationalists. Three, it helps us start wars (even mini-wars in a workplace) that help us climb to the top, a place in life that evolution smiles upon and rewards.

No great concluding thoughts, just something to think about when you find your life has persistent conflicts. Thanks.

Thoughts? Questions? or leave a comment.