One of the more intriguing phenomena of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in recent years has been the way in which the movies of the series like Captain America 3: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and The Black Panther have made a significant part of the audience identify with those who are viewed as the villains of the movies. Admittedly, I have not seen all of these movies so I cannot common in too great a length as to how this was done, but I did see Black Panther , and so I will comment on that. There are a lot of people–either self-hating woke white Progressives or black power advocates, who would have a lot to agree with in the perspective of Black Panther’s rival, who views it as a shameful act for Wakanda to hide itself in security while the sons and daughters of Africa were being sold abroad to the Middle East and Atlantic world in slavery and oppressed by European imperial regimes. Likewise, Thanos’ contention that the universe is in danger of overpopulation and needs to be culled of its excess inhabitants would find sympathy in those who peddle abortion on demand and euthenasia in the West or China’s brutal one-child policy, even if that comes with the potential of dislike for the methods involved.
Earlier today, I found that the IT department had sought to secure the computers at work and had, as is common, made a bit of a mess of it . At first, I thought that I was the only one who had found his computer’s settings tampered with to an annoying and irritating degree, but lo and behold, through the course of the morning and early afternoon, I found that the rest of my department felt the same way. We were all irritated that our internet settings had been tampered with in a way that made it more difficult for us all to do our jobs, download various reports, and so on. I am not lacking in sympathy for our IT department and the difficulty of their job, and I am somewhat aware of the fact that my own desire to use the computer in certain ways is likely at cross-purposes with their own mission, and that in their attempts to protect against abuse, they make it more difficult to use computers in a legitimate fashion. Just as it would be easy to make the IT department and its occasional bungling into villain tales with myself as the protagonist, I must concede as well that in the eyes of the IT department (and perhaps not only them), I too would be the villain of their own tales that show them as beleaguered defenders of corporate security wrestling with internal enemies.
Not being content simply to leave the matter there, I thought that this might be a more widespread issue. One of the sources of the richness of our existence is the insights we gain from understanding or at least recognizing the multiplicity of perspective that exist. A great deal of wisdom and understanding requires that we see things from other perspectives than our own. While we may be able to justify our own behavior and our own perspective easily, it is a vastly more interesting and worthwhile matter to see how our behavior appears in the eyes of others. Even if we do not agree with the interpretations that others give, knowing the repercussions of our behavior on others allows us to have a lot more empathy and understanding of why others respond to our behavior in the ways that they do, and allows us to see others (at least in our mind’s eye) as they see themselves, and to see ourselves as others see us. If this is not always a pleasant matter, it is an important one, because it allows us to see the struggles that result from standing where we do, that are inherent to different power relationships and preoccupations, and that are not the result of mere wickedness or perversity.
When we think of ourselves as parts of stories, it is interesting to reflect on the fact that everyone tells their own stories. Some of the best movies make as their central point the incommensurability of the perspectives of the people involved. When we think of movies like Rashamon or Vantage Point, coming to grips with the variety of perspectives on the same event is a fascinating challenge. When we add ourselves as aspects of this complexity, the challenge increases, not least because of our own strong tendency towards self-justification. Ultimately, we have to realize that it is not our own view of reality but rather the judgment we receive from God that matters in our lives, but in the meantime we hone our own ability to judge accurately by taking into account the way we appear in the eyes of others as a way of seeing others, for all of their differences, as beings like ourselves, and of loving them as we (naturally) love ourselves, and of regarding them with proper respect and concern.
At times, we find ourselves engaged in a game of a cat and mouse. As is the case with my department and our behavior with regards to our IT department, we are at cross-purposes. Our attempts to get our reports and engage in our incidental use of computers including e-mail are contrary to the evident plans and efforts of IT. Any workaround we find to their restrictions is likely to be met with sometimes drastic behavior, which may include the banning of various ip addresses, the disabling of extensions on our computers, or even our inability to use remote access. Instead of feeling irritated about this dual of wits, I find it a great challenge for myself in increasing my own knowledge about how to use the computer more intelligently. Whether or not the IT department views my own sense of humor about such matters with the same degree of equanimity is not for me to judge–we must all choose to respond to the challenges of our existence, including the responses of other people, as best as we are able. And at times we must concede that we are villains in the tales of others, however heroic we are in our own stories.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: