This one is going to show my inner nerd, but I ask that you stay with me.
Everyone knows the story of Batman: a young boy has his parents murdered in front of him and he spends the rest of his life fighting crime to ensure no one else goes through the same pain as him. One bad day changed Batman’s life forever. But, did you know that the Joker had one bad day as well?
In the graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore with art from Brian Bolland, we find a take on The Joker’s origin story. His name is never mentioned, but a man is shown who is desperate to save his wife. She is very sick and needs surgery. The problem, as with all Americans, is that the procedure is very expensive. Desperate for cash, the man turns to some local gangsters he meets at a bar. They agree to give him the money if he helps them with a job. The man agrees. He helps them break into the chemical plant the man works at. Batman intervenes only for the gangsters to get away with the cash and the man to fall into a vat of chemicals. The man is scarred terribly, but he is still the man .
The man returns to the bar to meet with gangsters. They are surprised he is alive, but happily give him his share of the heist. The man is glowing with excitement as he is now able to pay for his wife’s surgery. She will not be happy with how he got the funds, but what the heck? At least she will be alive, right? Well, just as he is taking the money to get his wife better, the bar receives a phone call. It is the hospital. The wife has passed away. The hospital tried reaching the man, but he was no where to be found. The wife was searching for him but couldn’t find him.
The man looks around desperately. He has all of this money now to make his wife better, but now there is no one to spend this money on. His purpose has passed away. He looks down and starts giggling. Then starts laughing. It is at this point that he has become The Joker.
The question that I (as a nerd) often ask myself is this: what is the difference? Both Batman and The Joker had really bad days. An eternal quote from Batman: The Killing Joke, is, “All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.” It has been argued that Batman is also not of a sound mind. He dresses up as a bat and jumps off rooftops; there is something loose up there. But if that is the case, what is the real difference between Batman and The joker?
I think I found the answer in another fandom. The Sorting Hat from from J.K. Rowling’s series about a young wizard who lost both his parents only to become the hero, did a very simple thing in his first year. He did a simple thing that made all the difference and set things into motion that would change the wizarding-world forever.
“Hmm,” said a small voice in his ear. “Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There’s talent, oh my goodness, yes — and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that’s interesting. . . . So where shall I put you?”
Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.
“Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice. “Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that — no? Well, if you’re sure — better be GRYFFINDOR!”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Choice. It is the simplest answer but also the most crucial. Bad things happen to good and bad people alike. bad things happen and how we choose to react is what changes who we become. There is going to be bad. I am currently writing a book about going through miscarriages. This was a devastating thing that happened that shook me to my core. So much of me wanted to collapse. So much of me wanted to shut down and close up. So much wanted to disappear from the world. But, I didn’t. I moved forward. I used it as fuel. I pushed and am still trying to push myself to be better for the babies that I lost. Destiny is in place, but free-will exists for a reason. Things are destined to happen but we are in charge of what happens and how we react to it.
So, which do you choose?