There comes a time when you are ready to get up into someone’s face and very carefully, very clearly, with all the gravitas possible, say to them “I have had enough of your sadistic shit and I’m not going to put up with it anymore”. I’m certain everyone has that point. Maybe most of you never get to that point. Maybe some of you get there far too often and begin to question your emotional stability. But everyone has that point, somewhere.
For most people, those of us who have a dollop of empathy in our psyche, that point can actually come on behalf of someone else. Perhaps you are an animal lover and have gotten there when you saw a defenseless creature being abused. Perhaps you have a special place for children and got there when you saw someone threatening a child. Maybe it a bit a nature – you couldn’t stand to see someone tromp on something that does nothing but bring joy and beautiful.
Whatever that place is, you are ready to take a blow for your anger. You are so upset, so incensed at seeing this injustice that you won’t even weigh the possibilities anymore. You won’t be worried about being hurt, you won’t care about who will be angry with you or mock you or write you up or whatever, you are just DONE with this crap and you aren’t going to take it anymore. When that moment comes, you will feel many things – fear, defiance and of course righteous indignation and anger. Maybe even a tiny delicious bit of a thrill, because there is a bit of exhilaration at finally reaching the end point and being free of the constraints of mundane decorum. It’s liberating – to use a cliche as it was intended.
This is normal and expected and probably accounts for at least half of the appeal of “good guys versus bad guys” stories. At least. In a way, it’s not even interesting to talk about.
What is interesting, however, is not even what that point is for different people, but how they measure that point, What makes them reach it. It’s not so much what is it that particular person holds so dear as to warrant this reaction – because we all have it in us, so we can all empathize with the turning moment which comes to define a “hero” – it’s how did this person get here? What were the stepping-stones to finally cross that line? And lastly, the question that consumes us becomes “once you cross that line, how far have you swung?”