The Day I Realized The Bad Guy Isn’t All Bad

When we’re children, we think of our parents as idols. My dad is the strongest, my mom is the prettiest. But that fades away over time, as we realize our parents are flawed human beings. They’re people with many facets; they have sides good and bad, and so does everyone around us. I remember my professor at NYU saying, “People are not all good nor all bad.”

The day I found this out was when I discovered my friend’s grandfather was a Nazi. I remember being told, frozen at the news, thinking of the fragile old man sitting in his wheelchair. He seemed so sweet and gentle. Then I kept recalling more memories of him, the accurate ones, where he was sweet and gentle, but he barely uttered a word, even to his grandchildren. The blanket pulled over him, I observed the faraway look in his eyes. What was he thinking about?

I only saw the man a few times, since he never left the house. Several years later, his past was discovered in a town that was heavily populated by Jews, some of them Holocaust survivors. Many wanted him tried and deported. That was the last I’d heard of the man, and today, I’m sure he’s passed away.

I wonder if the man was brainwashed, as many of the Nazi youths were. Did he not know right from wrong? Or should all human beings innately understand right from wrong? All these questions and no answers, except one: The bad guy isn’t all bad.

I’m sure the man loved his family and they loved him; they loved him enough to keep him in “hiding” and protect his reputation. And they were good people. They certainly weren’t villains, nor did they possess Nazi-like qualities.

The few times I met him, I wasn’t scared of him. I just thought, “What a sweet old man,” as he nodded to recognize my existence.

Now, as an adult, I know that bad guys aren’t all bad. For example, Malcolm X became militant out of self-preservation, Genghis Khan treated his soldiers fairly well and even Hitler loved his German shepherd.

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