3: “That You Might Know Me” (Arthur Miller)

“Oh, Francis, I wish you had some evil in you that you might know me.”
         -John Proctor in The Crucible, by Arthur Miller

         Looking around (and at myself), it seems we’re often fighting the “worst parts” of ourselves–our greed and our jealousy, our arrogance and our laziness. Perhaps fighting them isn’t a very effective choice: most things will fight back, when you attack. When I circle my mind around some characteristic to lay siege, I’m also making that characteristic the center of my mind. Perhaps there are other ways.
         It’s not just that anger and arrogance can help with some tasks, although I think they can; it’s that these emotions can always help us relate to and care for people who are also sometimes angry and arrogant. That means everyone, as far as I can tell.
         Our pains can make us close off, they can make us cruel, but they can also make us open up and be kind. We understand each others’ struggles because we struggle. We can understand when our loved ones fall short because we fall short. Our struggles and flaws can be reminders to stop and pay a little more attention to others, and they can also be the windows through which we understand a little piece of someone else’s tears or false smiles. So perhaps it’s okay to struggle. Perhaps it’s even okay to fall short. Perhaps it’s wonderful. Next time I find a part of me that feels rotten, I want to work on it, but what if I also remembered John Proctor for a moment, and said, “Thank all that is, I have some evil in me, so I can know my friends.”

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