Here's how some people become just awful

It starts simply enough, people doing what any and all of us do. We’re cruising along and something gets in our way. So we sidestep it. If we can’t, we brush it aside. If we can’t, we shove it aside and continue cruising along.


We’re still cruising but bigger obstacles are coming at us more frequently. Maybe it should give us pause. Are we cruising a groove or stuck in a rut?

No, sometimes life is like that, our ways forward just strewn with obstacles. We roll our eyes and just keep on trudging along, sidestepping, brushing and shoving obstacles aside.

It’s not easy meeting this many obstacles. To keep at it we need mojo. We give ourselves pep talks, collecting reasons we’re right to plow through the obstacles which are wrong to be in our way. We find allies, people facing similar obstacles. We commiserate, ridicule the obstacles, feel heroic for all the stuff we have to trudge through.

We collect parallels to our plight, stories of brave, heroic crusaders who plowed through obstacles to achieve wonderful things. We are just like those crusaders.

We ignore parallels to our plight, stories of evil, closedminded fools who rode roughshod over decency to achieve horrible things or to fail, vanquished by their heroic opponents.

We are not like those crusaders. Could never be. We’re good; the obstacle-imposers are bad. Whoever keeps throwing them in our paths, they’re the evil closedminded fools.

Dismissive, insistent, impatient, resentful, revengeful – we’re not going to take it, dammit. The world owes us better than this. It’s just immoral how we’re being treated. Anyone who puts obstacles in our way is an enemy of virtue. We cartoon vilify them, making them our scapegoats. That makes our scapegoats angry, so they putting more obstacles in our way. Which just goes to prove that they’re out to get us.

At our wit's end we cross over to a simple formula. These obstacles-throwers are pure evil. We’re pure virtue. We’re like gods. Those who oppose us are devils.

As gods, we are eternally right and righteous, omniscient and omnipotent, infallible and unassailable, all-knowing and all-good. We deserve to win, no matter the cost. We’re entitled, nay obligated to use any trick not in the book. The game is rigged against us so we don’t have to play by the rules. No deed too dastardly for gods at war with devils.

We’re playing to win because we are owed victory. We’re eternally omniscient, all-knowing and omnificent, all-virtuous. To round it out we deserve what goes to the omniscient and omnificent: omnipotence.

Freed from the rule book, we prevail over those who play by the rules. We take our ill-begotten wins as decisive proof that we are omniscient and omnificent. Our dastardly might proves once and for all that we’re eternally right and righteous.

We don’t have to think any of this through. One play at a time, we walk right into this theatrical posture. We don’t have to see ourselves doing it. It’s better if we don’t, but it’s fine if we do, because, after all, we’re the heroes here. If we’re winning through cunning, devious lies and hypocrisy that just proves we’re smart. And obviously smart for a good cause.

We just keep batting down obstacles but now we’ll stoop to anything. Subconsciously, in solidarity with our fellow crusaders, we’re liberated to fight a heroic fight, and if we should lose, we know why. We are martyrs to the devils, our scapegoats.

Sure, some people become awful by choice, but most don’t. They just become so entrenched that they refuse to wonder whether they’re the obstacles. It’s easier not to wonder. The more you do, the easier it gets, and the harder it would be to admit as entrenched as you are, that you’re in a rut, not a groove after all.

It could happen to any of us. If you don’t think it could happen to you, if you’re insulted by the insinuation that it could, there’s a chance it already has. After all, awful people are the last to admit that they could be awful.

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