“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” – Sirius Black, Harry Potter

On my best days, I like thinking of myself as the ultimate good guy. I like to believe that when a hero is needed, it’ll turn out to be me. When a job needs to get done people will turn to me. If someone needs comforting… well, you get the picture.

Trick or Treat
Brave Heart via Compfight

On days when I’m not so strong… luckily, I’m still a pretty good guy. However, there are times when I hear of something bad that’s happened and the evil me comes out. Actually, the evil in me gets stirred and thinks about coming out, but I suppress it for the most part. Sometimes it’s not all that evil; it’s just an opinion I have that might shock someone who thought they knew a different me; they should know better. 🙂

Like most people, I tend to believe I have both traditional and non-traditional values, based on how I grew up. Whereas the liberal in me wants more gun control, the military kid in me wants more and better weapons in the hands of those who are supposed to protect our country. The liberal in me hates the death penalty while the military kid in me believes there are some people who commit crimes that are way too heinous, and without a doubt that they did it, that they don’t deserve to take any more unnecessary breaths on this earth.

The historian in me can look at people who are admired by a lot of people and know that they had their evil sides, and people who are looked at as evil who had their good side. Naming names:

* Churchill led his country through one of the roughest patches of World War II yet was one of the worst racists in history where it concerned India;

* Gandhi led his country to independence from England while treating his wife and family like second class citizens and believing women weren’t equal to men;

* Dr Martin Luther King Jr led the way for black people to have more freedom and independence in America while cheating on his wife;

* Nelson Mandela led his people out of apartheid and was the first black president of his country while being seen as a terrorist who tried to overthrow the government by violent means;

* Adolf Hitler actually led Germany to economic recovery and drastically reduced unemployment which led to the German people believing him to be more than they could ask for… well, we know what he turned out to be;

* John Wayne Gacy was known as a volunteer for multiple charities around his hometown area which included dressing up as a clown and entertaining thousands of kids and ended up being given the death penalty for committing more than 33 murders of teenage boys and young men

* Both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were racists, and Henry Ford was greatly antisemitic

You’re probably asking why the history lesson… I’ll tell you why. History is always the best way to evaluate how people and events can impact our lives as we move into the future and offers many lessons on how people actually are. I grew up hearing nothing but wonderful things about Christopher Columbus. It took almost 500 years to learn the truth, yet in many places he’s still got people trying to protect his “legacy”; please!

History’s a good drawing board in figuring out why people might act as they do because, believe it or not, there’s really nothing new when it comes to behavior. There were serial killers in the past just like there are now. There were flawed and great leaders like there are now.

There are both good and evil men and women around us that we run into every day, and most of us hope the person we interact with is always going to manifest their best side. Unfortunately, things happen that makes them look bad, and makes the rest of us cast aspersions on them and their character who might not be as evil as they seem. Is a drunk driver who drives into a crowd of people inherently evil? Is a person who’s mentally ill and kills a lot of people inherently evil? Are all “Karen’s” evil and misguided people 24/7?

Often on this blog I say there are good and bad leaders, and that I’ve seen a lot of good and bad leadership actions. What I’ve never done is talked about people as being good or evil; as a matter of fact, it seems I’ve only mentioned the word “evil” 18 times, not including this article, in over 15 years and almost 1,425 articles, and never in the context of people (I’ve almost always talked about the lesser of two evils).

As strange as this might seem, I think that’s a pretty important distinction to make. I believe that bad leaders are inherently good people who are trying to do the best they can but might not have all the skills necessary to be good leaders. Sure, there are some leaders who are mean people but I’m not sure it reaches the level of evil all that often. This means that bad leaders can learn to be good leaders if they wish to.

Because, when all is said and done, no one is all bad… and most probably they’re not evil. If they’re not evil, they can become great leaders… or at least pretty good leaders. History shows us that no one is always who they might seem to be; and that’s mostly a good thing.
 

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