Good Guys and Bad Guys

Good Guys and Bad Guys November 16, 2021

There are a lot of ways a good guy, bad guy narrative can be beneficial. When it is rooted in truth, the distinction is fundamentally important. But this is a slippery slope.

All too often, we take the narrative of good guy versus bad guy and remake it in our own image. The standard for defining either is not about discovering, defining, or sharing truth. It is about ME. Good versus bad becomes an inherent battle of us versus them, me against the world. Which is very convenient (in a dangerous way) on multiple fronts.


A Good Place to Hide

Have you ever seen a crime show that talks about a criminal as “crazed” or something similar? When a pastor or politician falls from grace, they are often described as “depraved”.

We like using this language because it sets up this very convenient line in the sand. They are monsters. I am not a monster. Therefore, it is easy for me to judge them and feel as though I could never do the kinds of things they are doing.

They are bad.

I am good.

We tend to think this way when we hear of anyone guilty of a sin we are not guilty of–heavy drinking/drug use, adultery, etc.

It is a way to explain away the bad behavior of others in a way that makes us feel far removed from it. This kind of thing, after all, could never happen to me. I am a good guy. I am not crazed.

This is an oversimplification. It creates a nice little place for us to hide, to feel safe. To distance yourself from bad behavior. It allows an air of superiority. 

What I am saying here is that it is not enough to explain the bad behavior of others as “they are just a bad guy”. They may be “bad”. But we all are, in some way, shape, or form. None is perfect. And those who act badly do so for a variety of reasons. Many factors are at play. But by dismissing them as the bad guys and us as the good guys, we are able to push blame, accountability, and carefulness into the stratosphere.


Justifying Misbehavior

So, what happens next? Well, if I am a good guy, then there is something different about my mistakes than the ones other people make. Even my major mistakes.

It is a short leap to start to justify my own behavior. We so often judge ourselves by our “intentions” and others strictly by their actions. So, if we mean well, whatever we do is defensible. We are the good guy after all. The hero.

All sorts of behavior gets excused and justified because we have already committed our perspective. I am good. They are bad. Any complicating factors quickly snap back into that oversimplified perspective.

The problem then becomes one of seeing the truth. We become less and less able to discern what is truly good and what is truly bad. The parameters start to mold around “what I do” or “what I want to do” rather than what is truly right or wrong.

Everything I do is right. Is good. And everything “they” do, the crazed and deranged ones, is bad.

The reality is we all have a voice of evil, the Bible calls it “the flesh”, and a voice of good, “the spirit”, within us. We can choose either. None of us are ever fully exempt from either voice. We have to continuously and diligently choose the spirit. It is dangerous to pretend as though either of those voices are alone or that we are fully immune to either. They are ever present. And we must make our choice.

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