I'm not normally into spook flicks, but last night I watched a delightful piece of fiction on Animal Planet (yes, they do show fiction sometimes) suggesting that werewolves, hounded too closely in Europe, found their way to the New World and set up housekeeping in quiet neighborhoods of the North East, following their gruesome lifestyle hidden in plain sight. It followed the story of a lone wolf in his attempts to take over a pack, quite interesting, really. As Halloween approaches spook flicks are already filling the airways. Apparently we just like to get scared sometimes.
But why do we watch these monster shows? Because we know that deep inside the human psyche is the potential monster. This morning's news told of the efforts the authorities are making to locate and apprehend Somer Thompson's killer. John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" suggested the perpetrator was a calculating and intelligent predator, perhaps one who has come out of retirement after years of quiet and honorable living, or even a wanderer, like the "lone wolf" of the Animal Planet series. Indeed we have monsters in our midst who give expression to the darker, crueler side of human existence, and noble people must stand in their way to protect the innocent.
But we all have monsters in our closets, too, those things that scare us inwardly, our past, our future, our present state, whatever it is. Noble thoughts and actions need to stand against these impulses to protect the innocent side of ourselves.
There is a twist, though. By the time I finished watching the show last night I liked the werewolves. They were in a sense, wolves in human clothing, living out their pack mentality in a human context. The lone wolf's gruesome killings were natural and understandable in the light of his real identity. Perhaps that, too, reflects something within. Whereas I would never advocate that the serial child killer be "understood and liked for who he or she is," within ourselves we must beware of dualism that suggests that the evil within us is merely the counterpart of the good. Evil is always good corrupted. The werewolf was described as the result of a mutant strain of rabies that infected a human after a wolf-bite in the early middle ages. These "wolf people" were actually very sick people, corrupted from what they were intended to be. Likewise, the monsters in your closet are something good corrupted. In your fight with the evil within you do not neglect the good at its heart--it often proves to be your greatest genius.