CHUCK KLOSTERMAN has written an important book, I WEAR THE BLACK HAT: GRAPPLING WITH VILLAINS (REAL AND IMAGINED). The gist of the book is this: We do not always think carefully about who we deem “bad guys” and “good guys” . . . and we most certainly don’t admit the fact that we are horribly inconsistent in our doling out of “black hat” or “white hat” status (e.g. sports fans and political players are the worst-we loathe Dennis Rodman until he’s on our team, loathe a politician until he/she wins the primary). He contends that a true villain/bad guy is the one “who knows the most, but cares the least.” From Bill Clinton to Adolf Hitler . . . from common criminals to Machiavelli . . . history is laced with men and women who go down as heroes or villains–Klosterman examines why some move on unscathed and others never recover from poor decisions. Beyond the mantra of “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up”–this book closely examines our shifting morality, why some people/events are despicable, others, heroic.
Here’s why this book matters. We live in a milieu (don’t you love that word milieu? It’s a fancy way of saying time/era/world/culture . . . like saying raison d’etre when “reason for being/existence” would do) . . . a milieu in which we are fixated and consumed with what’s wrong with other people’s politics, other people’s beliefs, other people’s ideas . . . we transfer our anxiety, pain, hurt, anger and project it upon others so that we don’t have to do the hard work of inner peace, transformation, and maturity. But we rarely consider the reality that there are times (and many more than you might suspect) when we/I wear the black hat.
“You wonder what is wrong with the world?” G.K. Chesterton famously wrote to the London Times, “I am.”
Buy the book. And, perhaps, read it. If you don’t, your a bad, bad person. A true villain.
My first book, THE FEAST examines this at a much deeper level. Especially when local churches fail to have this conversation about good guys, bad guys, and the role of Jesus in history to address this in our societies. Who wears the black hat? The answer should sometimes surprise you.