Tag Archives: purpose

The Purpose of Darkness

Despicable Me.  Army of Darkness.  Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Barbie and Friends. Can you tell what’s similar about those titles.

They all share a theme.  Evil.

Why is it that it seems like every modern teen tale tries to glorify “the dark side”?  Vampires, witches, barbies, zombie gore fests…has anyone else noticed that the word “bad” seems to pop up in book and movie titles with alarming frequency.  In fact, when was the last time you saw a true hero onscreen, instead of the omnipresent antihero.

Darkness exists in all story, albeit with the children’s ones getting off pretty easy.  It also exists in real life.  But should we glorify it, putting evil men up on a pedestal and saying, “Boy, I wish I could be like them.”  Or short of that, so much of evil is made out to look ‘cool’.  Whether through savage stylized violence or whatever other means, people walk away thinking how awesome it was.

Now I’m not saying that evil should be ignored in storytelling, but quite the contrary.  Darkness can and should be present in great story, but it should have a purpose, and only one purpose fits the bill.  The only real purpose of evil in life, and what should be the only purpose in storytelling, is in fact to glorify good.

Instead of making the good guy’s negative traits be the what you admire about his character, have his heroic qualities stand out instead, using the undesirable antics of his friends or enemies to help the reader (or viewer) realize just what really is so amazing about that character.

Please don’t ride me out of town if I mess up this quote, or cite the wrong source, but I believe it was Tolkien, probably in the Silmarillion, (or possibly Lewis, it’s been so long since I read it).   Paraphrased, what the author had written was, “Good will be better for evil having been.” That’s the whole purpose of darkness and evil in stories.  And in reality, that’s the reason God allowed evil to take over for a time.

Eden was perfect, it says that in the Bible.  But because Satan was allowed to be successful in tempting Adam and Eve, when heaven and earth are remade, we’re going to get something better! Better and more beautiful, fulfilling, and joyful than perfect!

Why the Destination?

Every path we take, every goal we set has two distinct components, the journey (how we accomplish our goal) and the destination (the goal itself). With this in mind, let me ask you a question. Which is more important: the journey or the destination? Now most people would consider this a trick question (it is, kind of) and so, after thinking about it, would answer, “Why the journey of course.”

Correct!400877_488041701219435_761434801_n

Now I’m going to ask you a different question.  Which is better to be focused on: the journey or getting  to destination? Not so obvious now, is it? Is there even a difference between the two choices?

Far too often, we focus on the journey, thinking that it in and of itself has meaning, and in a way it does. The journey shapes who we are, and the people we will be when we reach our goal. But remember this: THE JOURNEY WOULDN’T EXST IF THERE WAS NO DESTINATION.

During the holidays, the airports are packed like you wouldn’t believe. Hundreds of thousands of people traveling. Would they be traveling if they didn’t have a place to be, a family waiting for them with pumpkin pie and the most delicious drink in the world, sparkling cider? Of course not. The ONLY reason the travel is to reach hose people. Think about it. No one without a family travels at Thanksgiving.

The destination is the only thing that gives the journey purpose. Without it, life would simply be a purposeless and endless series of meaningless bumps. (See what I did there!)

For instance, have you ever been to a middle school sports basketball-rim1-226x300game? (Yes, they’re boring, I get it.) It’s a grand idea, allowing middle schoolers to practice teamwork, discipline and competition.

The destination; a good character and position as an adult. The journey; every practice, game and tournament. So if each middle school basketball game is only a means to an end, why is it that parents have the tendency to go nuts?

“Fred shoot the ball, slam it into his face!”

The trouble starts when people begin to think the journey is significant in and of itself. I’ve seen, you’ve seen, we’ve all seen the disastrous effects of putting too much emphasis on any game or tournament. Brawls erupt between friends, cruel, underhand shortcuts are taken in the game, and cheating can become rampant.  Do any of these things mentioned above help and/or assist the person involved in reaching his/her destination or goal? Not at all, and they cause trouble and possible torment for all parties.

We all make the same mistake at some point or another, to varying degrees. Teenagers focusing on trying to impress the opposite gender instead of preparing themselves to be a godly husband or wife. College students focusing on “living it up” and embroiling themselves in situations they will regret as adults, instead of using the time to prepare themselves better for their occupation.  Adults engrossing themselves too much in their job and missing out on time with family, simply because they forgot that the PURPOSE of the job was to SUPPORT their family.

On a personal level, one journey that has taken precedence over the destination in my life is this blog. Let me tell you why.

writing-novel

The reason I started this blog was two-fold: 1. Gain more writing experience, and 2. Get credentials and possibly an audience for my yet-to-be-published book. Therefore, I have devoted much of my time this last week to working on this blog, writing, polishing, and worrying about my lack of readers.

Now this may seem like a fine and good use of time and effort in and of itself. But remember, the point of this blog is to help my book. And by focusing too much on this blog, I have actually ignored working on my book completely. So now this blog, the journey, has hindered my book, the destination.

So why is it that we dwell on the journey, instead of the reaching the destination, so much. Perhaps because we’re in the journey right now.  Let’s face it: the past is safe, the present seems pressing, and the future is far away and frankly, pretty scary. Sometimes we’re afraid we’ll never reach our destination at all, and therefore we focus on what seems to be the only thing that we can control. We end up pouring all our energy and time into it, instead of using it to propel us forward.

As a Christian, I know that my ultimate destination is out of this world, Jack! And yet, I can’t help worrying about my journey getting there. What’s going to be my career, what do others think about me, what about the global economy…the list goes on.

Frankly, I don’t have to worry so much about all that. Not that I mean this life should be spent as a pushover, not caring what happens because it “doesn’t matter”. 1 Corinthians 9: 24-25 tells us that.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

Use the journey as a means to end. Don’t get me wrong, the journey’s important. But don’t let it make you forget where your going.