Of Human Nature, Survival Instincts and Grey Areas


Recently I was watching the movie, Man of Steel. There is this scene in the last few minutes of the movie, when General Zod says to Superman that his sole purpose is to do whatever is right for Krypton. He was born to defend the people of Krypton and that is why he was destroying the Earth; and that is why he wanted to kill Superman and the humans.

You may wonder why I am referring to a superhero movie adapted from a comic book. The reason is, these movies may be about superhuman beings who possibly don’t exist, but they do portray the human conflicts and human nature perfectly. We can draw a lot of parallels between them and real life.

Now General Zod’s logic may certainly be twisted, but he wasn’t completely wrong. He wasn’t some megalomaniac wanting to conquer the universe, he just wanted to re-create his home and live among his own kind. It may have been wrong according to us but not to him. But isn’t that the very nature of being? Isn’t survival instinct the primary reason why we do the things we do? And staying in the white area all our lives is not humanly possible either, humans are meant to make mistakes. Especially when it is the external circumstances or even the internal emotions that lead us onto the grey areas.

Sure, genocide is a black area, but in this movie, the intention behind it isn’t. A lot of times, our intentions aren’t bad or our points make sense, but the way we try to prove them is wrong. That is when we need to realize that the punishment has to fit the crime.
We usually think in terms of black and white. But in reality, there is no absolute black and there is no absolute white. No one is pure black or no one is pure white. There are always grey areas along with the blacks and whites. Good people are capable of doing bad things and bad people are capable of doing good things.

We all make mistakes, we are meant to make them. It is exactly how we can learn to rise up. Failures define us. And there is nothing wrong with grey areas. All of us have our grey area moments. These grey areas may be attributed to upbringing, childhood traumas or just simply the traumas or life-changing events in our day-to-day lives. The other people around us may take their own time in forgiving us and it is up to them or it is their prerogative. One day they may indeed forgive for the grey area choices that harmed or hurt them.

At the end of the day, more than the others, we need to forgive ourselves for those few grey moments, for those impulse or emotion driven choices that we make. It’s okay to tumble a little, we can always rise up and vow never to tumble the same way again. There will be other tumbles and they will teach us each time to rise above them. It is up to ourselves to live our lives happily in spite of all the negativity we surround ourselves with. We need to cut ourselves some slack. Living with positivity and hope is what will make us lead a life with head held high. We can always right the wrongs, which may take a lot of time and patience, but we can always atone for those mistakes. It is an achievable goal. And if the tumble is far graver, delving into the black area, then paying for it is the right thing to do, to atone for it in the best possible way, no matter what the consequences could be.
Here are a few quotes that impart a similar notion:

“Well, you know, in any novel you would hope that the hero has someone to push back against, and villains – I find the most interesting villains those who do the right things for the wrong reasons, or the wrong things for the right reasons. Either one is interesting. I love the gray area between right and wrong”. Dan Brown

Everything is not black-and-white. I’m really interested in the gray area – not justifying it, not glorifying it, not condoning it, but at least having people see there’s a genesis for every event in our lives. There’s some divine order to it, whether it’s ugly or beautiful. Isaiah Washington


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