We want villains

Published: September 24, 2010

Mephistopheles is a demon who wagered his soul against the devil

Why do we throw shoes at people? Why do we send jokes deprecating our democratic leaders? Why do our status messages wittingly and bitingly comment on political disasters?

Because we want to sleep at night. We are good citizens, we are good people and we prove this by indulging in the aforementioned acts of patriotism. We are horrified at the corruption around us and we would never ever be tempted by wealth and power, oh no! We are too good for that. And to prove it we have modern day Mephistopheles.
Vilified by the media and condemned by the general populace, we have elevated some people to the status of the sources of all the problems and corruption in our society, the reason behind all our miseries. Not to argue that they are not corrupt or hypocritical or responsible for a lot that ails out society.
But then, are we much better than them in our small ways? Whether one is bribing an official for a driving license or one has the government in the back pocket, the difference lies in the scope of activities, not the principle involved. We need villains to feel good about ourselves. Most of us do not have the least bit of inclination to venture into politics, though drawing room discussions are held with such vehemence that one would think that these people will take to the streets and bring a revolution. But the next morning sees the same people breaking traffic signals and bribing the traffic police.
To feel better about the hundred petty wrong things we do every day, that have no importance partly because what is at stake is not the principle but scope, and partly because we are not important enough to be in the media glare, we have villains. We have villains on the throne, we have villains in school, we have villains at work, we have villains that gave birth to the proverb, “give a dog a bad name and hang him”. Because we cannot be good our selves, we take pride in making the others out to be bad, and with this soothing thought we switch off the light, pull up the covers, and go to sleep.


Fatima Attarwala

A sub-editor on the national desk of The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.