We’d all like to believe we’re good people. I don’t think anybody wants to purposely be a dick—even terrorists are protecting and vindicating someone in their own mind. Since terrorism is merely a matter of perspective, what makes the difference between Batman and Joker? Both are solitary vigilantes. Why one man is considered a hero while the other is demonized as a villain is in itself a fascinating subject, but what really strikes me as interesting is the similarity between Batman and Joker: they both have the courage to walk alone.
Bruce Wayne became Batman after witnessing his wealthy parents’ brutal murder, while Joker is a born criminal turned criminally insane. On either side of the coin, these men experienced a traumatic event which forced them on a personal journey. While I wouldn’t wish trauma on anyone, it’s been my personal experience as well that a traumatic event triggered the personal journey needed to evolve into the activist I am today. Without that traumatic event, I would’ve just been your average white collar schmuck, Bruce Wayne would be another nameless one percenter, and Joker would be a statistic. Courage is a personal stat, and anyone who’s ever played a video game knows you have to use a stat to raise it.
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In order to gain courage, you must find a way to face your fears. Batman and Joker faced some of the darkest fears we have as human beings: death, the unknown, oblivion, infinity, darkness, and fear itself. I faced many of these fears myself. I’ve faced many of these dark corners of human existence, at one point channeling the collective consciousness through a preacher’s son by convincing him he’s a prophet. Facing these unknowable scenarios in life is essential to finding courage within yourself.
Decide who you actually are, whether it’s a poet, parent, or prick; explore your own spirituality. Nothing else is more important than discovering who you truly are and what you really want out of life. Discovering your inner happiness and motivation is the first step toward walking alone—you can’t walk alone unless you know where you’re going.
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I don’t know how much experience you have stepping out of line, but for the uninitiated, let me assure you that you’ll be noticed. People want everything in order, but in order to progress, we have to keep evolving and pushing forward. If you want to walk alone, you’ll have to be ok with being noticed, and it won’t always be good notice either. Do you see Batman and Joker hanging out and partying with their high school friends? They don’t ask what people think about their plans either. These men consider all information in front of them, but they remain focused on the prize.
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The first rule of life is to act like you belong there. The way to do that is to smile with confidence. As long as you’re confident and smiling, you can get through anything. Try being the first person on the dance floor; they’re the ones getting the party started. Until that one person dances, a dance floor is simply a floor, no matter how good the music is. Forget about how dumb you may look or what people may think of you, and smile like you’re living your life for yourself. Whether Batman or Joker, there’s only one way to become a legend: stand up for yourself, and walk alone.
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