How to Love a Monster

There’s no better way to end a day than with good bedtime story. As my son puts it, every tale needs an unequivocal “uh-oh” moment. He and I easily get lost in the whims of creative genius that are inherent to improvisational storytelling. While my kid loves the drama of it all, I worry about the explicit and implicit messages conveyed while constructing (and perpetuating) conflict and crisis between good and evil. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the classic protagonist-take-down-of-the-antagonist framework.

Monsters are brooding personalities with complex histories. They wield beady eyes, booming voices, and in some cases, they don’t pay their taxes. These beasts are limited in sight and harbor vast blind spots; often lacking the peripheral vision necessary to notice perspectives apparent to others in plain view. Monsters are known to lack poise and repose. They have one mode: full throttle attack. Monsters devour to ensure they are not devoured. Monsters surely trust no one, and barely maintain a sense of loyalty to themselves. How else would they be able to endure the endless state of loneliness that is their existence but to completely deny themselves of connection to anyone or anything with a pulse?

Monsters feed on hate. The trifecta of loathing, disdain, and detest from others nourish the beast. Conversely, these sentiments are toxic to those who wield them. The hate unleashed on monsters is derived from the places within us that loathe, experience disdain, and detest ourselves. We learn to hate monsters for the multitude of reasons we subconsciously learn to hate ourselves. Like a Catch-22, hate fuels the monster and leaves us depleted.

So how does one go about stopping a monster in its tracks? Love.

To love a monster is to acknowledge the pain that is harbored within the beast. In acknowledging the painful — often soul wrenching — past of the monster, we create space in our hearts and heads to conjure an alternative version of the being that was once oriented to believe in the inalienable right of belongingness. In this view, the monster is no longer an other, but one of us.

To love a monster is to speak a language of accountability. This requires simultaneously remaining firm and resolute in condemning acts which demean the sacredness of all life, while also modeling through direct action toward the monster what it looks like to uphold the sacredness of its very own being. The monster cannot resist what it has never known to be a possible life-affirming experience.

To love a monster is to forgive, but never forget, the beast’s transgressions. In forgiving, we become powerful forces of healing and compassion for the monster and ourselves. In remembering the misdeeds, we wash ourselves in a bath of humility. Never does the magnitude of wrongdoing justify the offense.

As the masses feast on the smorgasbord that is the never-before-seen antics of this political cycle’s campaign trail, the truth is this: our story’s end is yet to come, and remains ours to collectively determine. The pages will persist long past November 8, 2016.

Our willingness to envelop the monster in love is imperative to the well-being of this nation and the people who call it home.