Those Who Hunt Monsters (Written February 3, 2015)

I was an inspector who studied a crime,
And sought to know each criminal well,
So when it came that I reached my prime
Their thoughts I could foretell.

And then one day, there came a time,
The criminal, I thought, I should know better yet.
And how better to know than to practice their crime
So their methods I mightn’t forget?

So I planned my attempt like those I had seen,
But in the midst of the heist I would find,
Like déjà vu, like a waking dream,
I was caught by an inspector who studied crime.

So, if you hunt monsters, I say beware,
Lest you become monsters yourselves.
And if you stare in the abyss, I warn, take care
For it stares into you as well.


Yeah, ok, I may have just referenced Nietzsche. If you really want the full reference I suppose I should source it for you…

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
“Beyond Good and Evil”, Aphorism 146

Do I like Nietzsche? No. I think he is something of an idiot, actually. His ideas about math are almost funny, and I challenge anyone who says he had it right to go build a bridge and then walk across it. Is that terribly relevant to this post? Not really. I just didn’t want anyone thinking I look to Nietzsche for wisdom. As for my use of his quote, I haven’t read Beyond Good and Evil, so I have no idea what context the quote I referenced appears in. That doesn’t concern me too much, because I’m just gonna let you know that I’m using the quote totally divorced from anything Nietzsche wrote. Ok? Good.

As for the poem! I feel, sometimes, that people need to be wary of examining the motivations of criminals too closely. We’re all human. Believe it or not, nobody is actually motivated by something like “I just wanna hurt people! Mwahaha!” Even people who do terrible things are motivated by very human inspiration. That doesn’t excuse them, and it doesn’t mean they deserve to be unpunished. Quite the opposite. At some point or another everybody faces something that they don’t feel they could possibly handle- death of a loved one, physical suffering of some sort, some sort of loss. Everybody. What makes criminals different? Their reaction. When they came to the point where they had to face their trouble, however horrendous it was, they decided to do the wrong thing.

The problem with looking at their motivation too closely is exactly that it makes sense. Yeah, you know, I can understand why children of abusive families might grow up to kill their parents. But you know what? That doesn’t make it right. That doesn’t make it ok.
I’m not saying it is bad to understand the motivations for tragic crimes and whatnot, but I am warning you to be careful. You are staring into an abyss, and it is staring back.

The same is true of hunting whatever bad thing, whatever monster, you are after. Yes, you can hunt it more effectively if you understand it better, but be wary. Just because something is wrong doesn’t mean it is stupid, and it doesn’t mean it isn’t tempting. If you don’t know yourself and what you believe before you start, then trying to understand your enemy could well lead to you becoming the monster you hunt.


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