The worst villans in history were good. No, I don’t mean their actions were good. They were horrific, reprehensible, gruesome, cruel, evil. But underneath all that, their essential human nature, although in many cases seemingly hopelessly occluded, remained intact. I don’t think believing that some people are simply born evil and some are good is going to solve the very real problem of murder and mayhem. I think any solution to the problem needs to hold out at least the theoretical possibility of reclaiming good human souls out of utter darkness, of uncovering the natural goodness of even the most awful of people.
This would change the way we look on our enemies in war, domestic abusers, and mass killers. I can’t help but think this would also change the way we solve the problem. Maybe we don’t know how to do it, or maybe we do on a small scale but don’t have the resources to do so on a societal scale, but the answer in the long run is not a handgun in your purse or ex-marines in every school. The answer is having a society where people do not want to shoot or dominate or abuse each other.
I know lots of people think this is utterly naive, but I am convinced it is so.