I spent over twenty-five years as a nurse. One valuable life lesson lesson nursing school, and my subsequent career, affirmed for me is that “always” and “never” are rarely the correct answer. There are very few things in the universe that are always good or never bad in and of themselves. Error whether mental, emotional, or physical usually comes in pairs. We call them extremes because they occupy the opposing ends of a spectrum. Place any object or idea in the hands of humans, and you have the first step in a potential disaster…and the plot for a great book because they will run to extremes with it.
Heroes are not always completely good. Villains are not always completely bad. Since I don’t want to offend anyone too badly, let me use high fructose corn syrup as my bad guy. I see some of you cringing at the mention of this additive evil. This stuff is “always” bad for us, right? Nutritionists and other healthcare workers tell us so. However, suppose you come across a person in insulin shock or showing symptoms of low blood sugar. High fructose corn syrup is just standing by watching. It’s not the best solution, but it’s all you have. You have to act…now! Corn syrup is your hero. Second Amendment supporters are familiar with the concept.
Writers like corn syrup. He’s a ready-made villain. I describe a character as “a wrinkled, silver-haired, white man” and you’re thinking creepy, evil, pervert…maybe Joe Biden pops into your head. It’s too pat. Which may be okay for marginally written fiction, but not for real people.
People are not like that. I’m not like that. You are not like that. We live in the real twilight zone wandering between the pit of our fears and the summit of our knowledge. We are all more that our labeled ingredients and capable of mixing some of those ingredients into new combinations at will. That’s why we hate labels and love to wave our freak flag at the same time.