“It’s funny, every crook I meet wants to tell me how much I’m just like them.”
– Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist
Episode 10, “The Phantom Thief”
When Ed says this, he’s talking to a thief who, like every other foe he’s faced thus far, starts talking about how they’re so similar. He’s fought a renegade former soldier who talked about how they got a cybernetic arm in order to be stronger, a fiendish alchemist who did monstrous things to his own family simply because he wanted to know that he could, a serial killer who went on about how people really want to kill others, and now a thief talking about obsession with what doesn’t belong to them. However, Ed got his cybernetic arm so he could continue to function and help his brother, not for power; he committed a taboo out of love, albeit a selfish love where he wanted his mother back from beyond death; he takes care not to kill because he truly doesn’t want to hurt people; oh, and what he pursues is something intended for his brother’s sake, not his own.
There are always similarities between heroes and villains, but the differences are what make each of them what they are.
Most pointedly, heroes are heroes because they stand up above their worst impulses, while villains surrender to them, sink into them, and see the world through them. Villains rationalize their actions by saying that everyone is the same, they’re just ahead of the curve. Heroes do not accept that, not in the world and not in themselves. This is why villains hate heroes so much, because they prove the lie that they tell themselves so they can keep living with what they do.
One of the lies I have always hated most is, “Everyone’s doing it.” This blanket statement is always used to excuse someone when they know they’re doing something they shouldn’t, something that isn’t right and they know it. “You would have done the same,” they say, trying to drag others down to their level, so they can feel better about not rising up and doing better.
Now, I want to rush and make it clear, I have made enough mistakes in my life to learn that I should not judge others for theirs, and I don’t mean to judge anyone now. At the same time, there certain points on which I will call BS. This is one of them.
Hiding behind the line, “anyone would do it,” is wrong. It’s a surrender to our worst selves, which is always a travesty, made all the more tragic by how it tries to pull others down at the same time. It is profoundly hurtful to ourselves and those around us, which is my line, my one rule above all: nobody gets hurt.
Some people lie. Others tell the truth.
Some people are unfaithful. Others are forever faithful.
Some people hurt others. Others are healers.
Some people steal. Others give everything they have for others.
We all make our own choices, and not everyone chooses the same.