Saturday, April 2, 2016

Why We Should Still Write Good vs. Evil

I've seen the trend of writing gray characters going on for some months now. I've seen it highlighted in many posts, heck, I've written a post just last month about writing antiheroes, the epitome of gray, and I think gray characters included make a realistic story world. But I've also seen a lot of putting down of many morally white characters like the new fear of writing the dreaded Mary Sue aka perfect character. I get that good characters need to have flaws. I get that bad characters sometimes need a little good or humanizing elements. 

But when I see quotes like this is when the line is drawn:

Let’s face it, fights between pure good and absolute evil are getting old. Black and white morality doesn’t lend itself to nuanced characters, and it rarely feels realistic anymore.
~ Five Dualities That Can Replace Good and Evil from Mythcreants

Excuse me? Black and white morality isn't realistic anymore? 

This is illogical and a fallacy, a dangerous one at that. Promoting that there is no true good or no true evil means everything is okay. It means killing a child is as okay as getting an ice cream cone. The moral repercussions are insurmountably damaging. It's not just about what kind of characters you write, it's about the message you're sending behind these characters. Only God and His Son Jesus are absolute good and only Satan is absolute evil, but there are many white good and black evil in the fictional and the real worlds.

Morally Black - A morally black person is one who seeks to do evil. Evil is their goal. Their morals are twisted. They don't know what's right or wrong or they do wrong out of their own volition to reach their goals. They lie, cheat, steal, murder, adulterate, hurt others or manipulate for their own gain, lust for sex or power or money, and so on. 

They keep committing these wrongful actions and that is how they live. They've fallen to sin and have no desire to back out of it again. They may have a family. They may enjoy art. They may have a dog they love dearly. But in the end their goals are evil.

In fiction:

1.) Sauron - Sauron was once part of a good race known as the Maia, the same race Saruman, Radagast, and Gandalf are actually, but he chose power and corruption over good. This in time blackened his heart and made him into a monstrosity. He created the One Ring, a device to further strengthen his power and give himself immortality. He did this as a malicious attempt to destroy the world of men and selfish desire to never die. This is probably as black as it gets. Some people think Sauron as one-dimensional. So let's get to some more multi-faceted villains. 
In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret, a master ring, to control all others. And into this ring he poured all his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life. One ring to rule them all. One by one, the free peoples of Middle Earth fell to the power of the Ring.
~ Galadriel about Sauron from the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

2.) President Snow - We don't know a lot about President Snow's past, but we do know he clawed his way to the top. In his desperation for power he even poisoned himself to draw away suspicion as he eliminated anyone who stood in his way. He continued the brutal tradition of slaughtering children to keep the illusion of peace. 

When Katniss Everdeen threatened his power, he made it clear to her he would show no restraint in securing his position. He had dozens of people killed under direct orders who dared show even a sign of defiance such as a Mockingjay whistle or a three finger salute. Yes, he has interests such as gardening and loved ones such as his granddaughter, but that doesn't overshadow the fact that he's nefarious, vicious, cunning, greedy, and selfish.
You fought very hard in the Games, Miss Everdeen. But they were games. Would you like to be in a real war? Imagine thousands of your people, dead. Your loved ones, gone. 
~ President Snow from the Hunger Games: Catching Fire

3.) Fire Lord Ozai - Fire Lord Ozai followed the legacy of his father and grandfather and continued the conquest of the world, so it would all be united under the Fire  Nation. He had a wife and two children, but favored Azula over Zuko. He was willing to kill his own son for the crown and ultimately he was willing to raze an entire country if that meant he would win the 100 year war. Once he was an innocent child, but he let himself go downhill.
When the comet last came, my grandfather, Fire Lord Sozin, used it to wipe out the Air Nomads. Now, I will use its powers to end the Earth Kingdom - permanently. From our airships, we will rain fire over their lands. A fire that will destroy *everything*. And out of the ashes a new world will be born. A world in which all the lands are Fire Nation, and I am the supreme ruler of *everything*! 
~ Fire Lord Ozai from Avatar: The Last Airbender

In reality:

1.) Nero - This fifth emperor of the Roman Empire was truly an evil man. Take a look at the excerpt from a wikipedia article below:
The first documented case of imperially supervised persecution of the Christians in the Roman Empire begins with Nero (37–68). In 64 AD, a great fire broke out in Rome, destroying portions of the city and economically devastating the Roman population. Some people suspected Nero himself as the arsonist, as Suetonius reported,[9] claiming he played the lyre and sang the 'Sack of Ilium' during the fires. In his Annals, Tacitus (who wrote that Nero was in Antium at the time of the fire's outbreak), stated that "to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians (or Chrestians)[10] by the populace" (Tacit. Annals XV, see Tacitus on Jesus).
~ Quoted from Wikipedia
Whether he started the fire or not singing and rejoicing during this sort of devastation is pure evil. He also executed his own mother and was rumored to have dipped Christians in oil as a form of torture. He was tyrannical and psychotic and he was a real person. But this was a thousand or so years ago right? Let's go to exhibit B.

2.) Adolf Hitler - The leader of the Third Reich, the Nazi regime, during World War II. He began his life as an artist and later on becomes famous for burning books and destroying paintings. He seduced the young German generation to rally to his nefarious cause, beginning the Holocaust that killed millions of Jews, Poles, homosexuals, disabled, Gypsies, and more in inhumane ways such as experimentation, buried alive, shot, starved to death, burned alive, and gassed. 

By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.
~ Adolf Hitler

Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice.
~ Adolf Hitler
He's sick. He's crazy. He's evil. And he was a real person. But was seventy years ago too far away for you? All right let's bring this home.

3.) ISIS - This is a radical Islamic group going on right now. Yes, right now. In its effort to create sharia law, this group of people has beheaded Christians on camera, destroyed holy sites, kidnapped children to force them to become radical Islams, killed innocent civilians in suicide bombs, decapitated a journalist, and the atrocities just go on and on. More information on ISIS activity here. If this isn't evil I don't know what is. How can anyone say that true evil is old fashioned when this is going on in present day? They're so vile, I don't even want to quote them.

Morally White  - Humanity will always be flawed. That is our reality since Eve took a taste of the apple. We will always have the temptation to lie, steal, cheat, and so on. We're human and we're flawed, but that doesn't mean we can't be morally white, that doesn't mean that our goals in life can't be pure. This goes for characters  and for people in real life. Morally white people pursue virtues such as honesty, kindness, bravery, selflessness, and so on. Though because the world is a sinful one we'll always mess up, in the end a morally white person wants to do the right thing.

In fiction:

1.) Samwise Gamgee - Sam has to be one of my favorite morally white characters of all time. He is loyal, diligent, sacrificial, and just plain inspirational. His goal in the films is to protect Mr. Frodo, and he does that with every bone in his body even if he's tired or in pain or hungry or wet, even when Frodo outright rejects him. He's just a plain gardener. Sam does have his flaws. He's weak, he's a bit of cry baby, he's spiteful against Gollum, but his intentions are pure as he journeys to destroy the One Ring.
 “Come, Mr. Frodo!" he cried. "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you."
Samwise Gamgee from the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

2.) Peeta Mellark - Peeta is a sweetheart. He is kind, gentle, devoted to Katniss, has a heart for the districts, and enjoys decorating cakes. Katniss desires to protect him for his genuine heart. Peeta can be a bit snobbish though like he is toward Mags, Beetee, and Wiress at first and he becomes a tool of the Capitol, but deep down inside, he just wants a peaceful life baking cakes and married to Katniss. 
Only keep wishing I could show the Capitol that they don't own me. That I am more than just a piece in there game. If I am going to die I still want to be me. 
~ Peeta from the Hunger Games

3.) Aang - Aang never wanted to be the Avatar. He ran away in his fear of his great responsibility and he tends to be reckless and immature at first, but he has gentle merciful soul, one that desires peace, tranquility, and for the safety of others. He is wise in many ways and he cares deeply for his friends. Even though he's scared, he pushes through and works hard at becoming the icon he was destined to be so he can save the world.
Let your anger out, then let it go.
~Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender 

In reality:

1.) Job - This man was so faithful to God that He was confident that no matter what Satan did to him that Job would remain loyal to God. Satan put him through Hell. He killed his family. He gave him illnesses. His friends turned against him. Job grew angry at God during this time, but in the end he never lost his faith. 
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name [was] Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. 
~ Job 1:1

2.) C.S. Lewis - Once an atheist, Clive Staples Lewis became a devout Christian and wrote many famous works including the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Screwtape Letters, and Mere Christianity. He took in children during World War II, did a radio show for soldiers, and was a faithful Christian till the end. He may have had his flaws, but in the end he wanted to spread the word of Christ and so he did and still does through his works to millions.
Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.
~ C.S. Lewis
Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. C. S. Lewis
Read more at:
Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. C. S. Lewis
Read more at:
Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. C. S. Lewis
Read more at:

3.) Malala Yousafzai -This girl is the youngest Nobel Prize winner in history and she even took a bullet to the head survived in her pursuit of education. She has fought for girls education and rights in Pakistan through campaigning across media. She's brave and isn't afraid to speak the truth. I would say a pursuit such as this definitely puts her in the morally right zone. You can check out more about her on this blog
I speak not for myself but for those without voice... those who have fought for their rights... their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.
~ Malala Yousafzai
I speak not for myself but for those without voice... those who have fought for their rights... their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated. Malala Yousafzai
Read more at:

Conclusion - These are all sorts of people real or fictional. Yes, it's popular to have characters who you don't know what side they're going to be on. In one season/movie/book they could be good and in the other bad, but isn't it admirable when a character holds to his beliefs no matter what happens? Yes, it's popular to have a villain who make sassy remarks and has a quirk hobby, but we must also remember this villain is a murderer/rapist/liar/adulterer/etc. and needs to be stopped. This gray character trend blurs who is a good and who is bad.

We need heroes who truly want to do good and who want to be righteous and Christ-like, instead of tainting their morality with sleeping around or doing drugs or other dishonorable activities. No mortal is perfect, but a person who strives to be noble, just, and honest is one to look up to. We need to have villains who portray evil as it really is: abhorrent and not always cute and witty in their dastardly deeds. We need to show that evil isn't something to romanticize. And we also need the in between characters who are gray and don't know where their morals truly lie. We need the ones who aren't sure what side their on, because let's face it, those people exist. To write truly realistic stories we need black, white, and gray. We need all of the colors in fiction.

Do you write good vs. evil stories? What do you think about the gray characters movement? Do you have any further thoughts?

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