The plight of the underdog matters, no matter what.
I’m all for honoring those who are able to overcome their odds, but I feel the need to honor the unsuccessful underdogs. Again, I bring attention to those who have yet to see any hope for a happy ending, those who are unsuccessful in their attempts to overcome those odds i.e. the victims.
Honoring them is not so simple, but I think it is worth it. I’ve seen this done before, and it is remarkable to witness. Such a raw, candid announcement of truth can be victoriously powerful.
Often times, I have found that, while honoring the victims’ stories, a subtle and important contradiction can emerge. Naturally, there is someone that the victims blame for their troubles, an identifiable source for the unsuccessful underdog’s plights. Someone or something is perceived to be the origin of the aforementioned oppression and abuse. I nominate this culpable source as the villain.
And I’m not simply talking about the “bad guy” or the literary antagonist. I mean real villains, the real people we want to see dead and whose deaths would please us. That might sound a bit excessive, but I have heard how people can talk about mass-murderers, rapists, racists, and the like. There is a loathing for these people, and it is justified as deserved recompense for the hurt and suffering that they cause their victims. I have heard it as part of the unsuccessful underdog’s plight and pursuit to reach that happy ending. That kind of person is the villain of which I speak.
Interestingly enough, I think that on some level, the villain is also the unsuccessful underdog. I don’t know exactly what the difference is between the villains and the victims. Perhaps it is just in what they do when they never reach the happy ending, if they decide to take more abuse or give some out instead. I’m not sure just yet. Perhaps it’s just our perspective; we empathize with the victim and loathe the villain.
Whatever the differences are, I do know that there are notable similarities. Like victims, villains are also often unrecognized, undesired, underappreciated, and undervalued, possessing a story that has yet to really be told; all we know is the evil damage they cause. And again, in the more extreme cases, the villain is abhorred, objectified, and even dehumanized, possessing a voice so bound that it cannot be heard; all we can hear is the hatred they spew. Villains, like victims, are real people, actual human beings with inherent value.
And there lies the very contradiction which I observe. Quite frankly, villains need and deserve that fundamental validation just as much as victims do. Getting it might be the very thing that stops them from creating more victims, and yet we reject them all the more.
Contradictorily, our culture tends to disapprove of victims’ mistreatment and justify that of the villains. In one breath, we say how wrong it is for someone to be killed at the hands of another, and then in another breath, we can call for capital punishment for the killer and defend it as justice. In my opinion, both are just as dangerous and destructive. No one really wins.
Again, I reiterate that the plight of the underdog matters, no matter what.
I say this as someone who understands what it means to be victimized and vilified. The unsuccessful underdog in me gets the tendency to point a finger somewhere as the source of my troubles and how natural that desire is. Simultaneously, the unsuccessful underdog in me gets the weight of being regarded as someone who should never get a happy ending and how destructive that can be.
Admittedly, I could be projecting my experiences onto others. I certainly agree that it is wrong to oppress and abuse people. Perhaps some villains really do deserve to be dehumanized for the wrong they have committed. Still, I refuse to be the one who dehumanizes. That, to me, is just as wrong, even from the place of a victim. I just can’t find it in me to judge some underdogs and exonerate others when both likely have significant troubles that keep them from their happy ending.
I wonder how we can honor one unsuccessful underdog, the victim, and not dishonor another unsuccessful underdog, the villain. I wonder how we can encourage all underdogs to let the hurt go and forgive the sources of their abuse for said abuse. I wonder how we can use our energies to support people’s lives with love than to promote people’s deaths with hate.
Lately, I continue to find that the more value I give in telling my story, the more I am able to share that value with others for the telling of their stories. It may be naïve and childlike, but I just believe that everyone matters and that every story is meaningful, no matter what. Believing that has led me here, somehow simultaneously affirming the inherent worth of both predator and prey, the villain and the victim.
And that’s not the happy ending I expected or the retribution I initially sought. Again, I am on the side of Jesus, the ultimate underdog, and He wants everyone to win and reach that happy ending.
Christ have mercy on us underdogs, our plights, and our stories.
Love Love Love,