A while ago, a friend of mine was given an art project that challenged her to take on a social issue. I, thankfully, left art after a disastrous career in my sophomore year removed any interest I had in most creative endeavors. The visual ones, at least. She, however, was stuck HL-ing. For her social issue, she chose the idea that everyone needs a voice. To represent this, she set the entire TOK class to work cutting out strips of ribbon. During Advisory (a once weekly study hall for the whole school), she handed them out. On each strip the words ‘I live in a world that needs…’ had been written in Sharpie – which must have taken forever. Our task was to fill out the last word.
After a lot of thought, I wrote in ‘justice’. Thinking back, I’d change it out for ‘wisdom’. I’m sure someone wrote that. After she’d collected all the strips, she tied them all to a wire frame and presented it in the front hall. A few times, I glanced through a few. Many were silly. Bacon. Asians. Football games. A few were predictable: love, faith, friends… But a couple bordered on the philosophical. My favorite was this:
I live in a world that needs monsters.
Maybe the writer meant it as a joke. Maybe they enjoy monster movies. However they meant it, I couldn’t help trying to think of it more critically. Does the world need monsters? It’s true that they add an edge to even our most innocent fairy tales. You can’t have a good story without an antagonist. In history, too, there’s no better way to unite a group than hatred of another. Hitler used this to his advantage, binding Germany together in a shared disgust of Jews and other ‘inferior’ beings. Americans of all beliefs and ideologies usually bond in times of crisis, whether their foe is a hurricane or terrorists. We all perform at our best if there’s something to strive against – a rival, or perhaps someone’s dismissively low expectations. Our species tends to be competitive. It likes to fight against things. Monsters of all shapes and sizes can push us to new lengths – good or bad. Though the days of knights in shining armor slaying ferocious dragons are over, we all need something to vanquish.
And that’s why the world needs monsters.