Each of us has a monster down deep inside.
It’s made of fangs, talons and shadow, and it glories in blood, fire and pain.
It’s been part of us since before we climbed down out of the trees, wrapped around our hind brains; it is there today, and it will be there as long as humans are human.
It is, after all, one of those things that makes humans, human.
Some will argue that it is our intelligence that makes us human. Well, no doubt. Other will point out opposable thumbs, and they probably have a point.
However, Gentle Reader, I put it to you that the ability to take a bit of rock, a stick and some vine, and see what it may become in our minds is no more important than that monster lurking in our bones and blood.
Yes, to take those items and turn them into a spear is important — but what use is the spear without being able to walk up and stick it into the cave bear, or lion, or raiding Neandertal, or any of the thousands upon thousands of other bogeymen waiting to make early H. Sapiens into a brief diorama in some other species Museum of Natural History?
Opposable thumbs enable us — as a species — to write sonnets, turn gears, build wondrous structures, sow, weave, paint and everything else that makes us … Us.
Before that, though, the monsters that live inside of us used those thumbs to pick up stone axes, walk into caves and Put Out The Cat so that our mates and our progeny could not only live, but thrive without becoming Kitty Kibbles.
It’s there. That monster is in good people, bad people, smart people, stupid people, big people, little people, brave ones and cowards. If you are human, it’s there.
Part of walking the warrior path involves reaching inside, grabbing your monster and hauling it out to take a good, hard look at it; because denial doesn’t make your monster go away. Denial only ensures that if your monster ever does try to slip its chain, you’ll not know what to do about it, or even what it is.
That’s the thing: those people who swear they don’t have a monster — when theirs gets loose, they don’t have a clue. Their monster runs them — and that’s a recipe for an unpleasantness.
Man should always control his monster. It’s when the monster control man that things get nasty. And you can’t control your monster with denial or ignorance.
You can’t control your monster unless you know it. Unless you know what it looks like, what it feels like, what it feeds off of … and what it can do.
I once engaged in a debate with a young lass who swore that my assertions regarding the monster that lives in each of us were totally mistaken. Not everyone, said she, had a monster. Surely I didn’t think that she had a monster.
In response I asked if she had a child, or if there was a young child in her immediate family? There, indeed, was. A niece, of whom she was very fond. I then asked her to engage in a creative articulation with me. I asked her to imagine that she and her niece were in a room, and that the room was empty of everything except one other person.
She said that she could, and then I told her that the other person was Jeffrey Dahmer.
There was a long pause, and then she stated that she’d obviously call the police. I responded that Jeffrey Dahmer was bigger than she was, stronger, faster — and, of course, a serial killer.
I asked her how much she cared for the niece, then I mentioned that there was a hammer in the room, and asked her to think honestly about her response.
She looked at me for a long time, then I said: “Hey, look. Monster.”
When she told me to go to hell, I figured that I had gotten my point across.
Today, we had a young man come to jail for burglary. Not only is he a long-term substance abuser, but he has almost mechanically-perfect scars up the inside of both forearms from wrist to elbow.
I spoke to him gently — he was obviously still under the effect of whatever the current recreational pharmaceutical du jour is, but was coherent enough to assure me that he had thrown away any blade that he kept around for the purpose of cutting himself. He told me several times that he wasn’t stupid enough to keep a weapon about his person while committing a burglary, and seemed somewhat aggrieved that I would ask him such a thing.
When the razor blade used by a self-mutilating, substance-abusing critter to carve multiple dozens of lacerations into the flesh of both his forearms slid through my nitrile glove and several millimetres into my right index finger I knew exactly what that electric burn meant.
My monster roared up out of my hind brain, fueled by such things as “HIV”, “Hepatitis”, “LIAR”, and for a brief instant my monster filled my mind with visions of rage and blood, of crushing fury and punishing pain.
Only for that briefest of instants, though.
I ordered the critter not to move, informed the other officers that I’d been injured by a blade in his pocket, waited until they had secured the blade and walked to the nurse’s station, blood dripping off my finger every step of the way.
Later, the arresting officer sought me out to apologise for missing the razor blade in the critter’s pocket during his frisk, and stated, “Man, I don’t know how you did it. If that would have been me stuck by that nasty razor, I would have smashed him!”
Kid, I’m a man. I control my monster — always. My monster doesn’t control me — ever. Period. Full stop. End of story.
And that’s something you might just want to think long and hard about.