Artist: James Golaszewski
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I struggle with feeling the need to warn the world about all the nasty people hiding behind masks of decency.
There are people in this world that are abusive and dangerous, but only to a select few chosen victims. These monsters have neither the strength or skills to dominate everyone, so they carefully select their victims. Sadly, the victim most often is someone that initially trusted the offender. To the rest of the world they present a carefully constructed act that hides their true nature.
These people fall along a spectrum from bad to worse. The scale ranges from gossips, to bully's, to child abusers and those that engage in domestic violence, and on the extreme fringe to those that kill and commit sexual assaults.
Quite often there will be extensive news coverage about someone who was caught doing some horrific act. As the story unfolds over a few days a predictable pattern seems to be followed. After the initial story, people that think they know the offender make proclamations about how they can not, or worse, will not, believe the allegations because the offender has shown only a carefully constructed false face of decency to them. The evildoer has been acting like the “perfect” friend/neighbor/coworker in the presence of those they are fooling. You hear statements such as, “That can't be true, he (or she) always waves when he sees me/brings in my elderly mothers' mail/shoveled my snow/helped me change my flat tire/is always nice to ME...”
This serves two purposes. First, by doing so the offender is able to avoid detection. The second, and more sinister, reason is so those who know the villain's true nature are not believed and find no support in their struggle with and against the villain. The villains also proactively take steps to discredit those that know their true nature so, should the victim gather the strength and courage to speak out, they will not be believed.
Then, as the story unfolds, more victims emerge. Others that the offender has chosen to victimize see an opportunity to be believed so they come out of the darkness to call out the true nature of the offender.
Still, those that have bought in to the offender's act of presenting a false face of decency line up and defend the evildoer by pointing out all the wonderful features of the offenders carefully constructed false persona. They invariably note that the offender is a pillar of the community, and declare that the accusers are all self-serving liars. Then, time passes. Facts are revealed that make it impossible to believe the lies any longer. The truth becomes clear.
Then comes the really sad part. The defenders, who now know the true nature of the villain, remain silent. They offer no comfort or support to the victims who, by their silence and earlier support of the offender, helped victimize further.
I have a problem deciding how to deal with people like this. I feel the irresistible need to call them out, to point out their true nature for all to see. This most often ends in frustration because the believers are unwilling to let go of their illusions.
During my lengthy career in Law Enforcement I have known more than a few people on the middle and top end of this scale of villany. I have had the satisfaction of placing many of these individuals in the back seat of my squad car … the seat with the cage. In my personal life I have been victimized by these people and, even worse, people I love have been victimized. Because of these experiences I am a bit more adept at spotting these individuals “in the wild” as they try to move undetected among us.
Day to day, my main problem is with the monsters on the lower and middle end of the scale, the gossips and abusers. We all have people like this in our worlds; people that have revealed themselves to us to be monsters; abusive, petty, mean-spirited, gossips, and child/wife/husband abusers. Yet, any attempt you make to reveal the true nature of the villain is met by disbelief. In the age of Facebook this is even harder to deal with. You will see posts about these villains - those that have revealed their dark nature to you - where those among the fooled describe the monster as being “fantastic”, “amazing”, and “wonderful” (oops, I forgot the exclamation marks. Here are a few: !!!!!!!!).
What to do about this? Like I said in the beginning, I struggle with this question.
Like a lot of seemingly unsolvable problems, I think the best solution is to do what you can, when you can, where you can.
I have chosen to visualize these thoughts by using my old friend, the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse. Through the hours of darkness, the lighthouse tries to warn boaters about hidden dangers and guide them to a place of safety. Some heed the warning and take the advice, finding safe harbor. Others continue to wander in the darkness. Like the lighthouse, all you can do is give warning. The rest is out of your control.
I have set the scene at sunrise, that moment when the sun rises and reveals the truth to all. A time of “Awakening”.
Image and Text © 2016 James Golaszewski