Writing Prompt #6: Skinning Humanity

“We are all brothers under the skin – and I, for one, would be willing to skin humanity to prove it.”

-Ayn Rand

I’ve mulled over this topic for a while now. There are so many facets to this one.

Here’s a few questions to ponder:

  • How do you see yourself?
  • How do you see others?
  • How are you acting and showing yourself to others?

I put up a picture of a being that is half-angel, half-demon. I believe that there are angels and demons within all of us, and then those angels and demons also themselves known, through our words and actions.

Also, Ayn Rand is a bad-ass. I read several of her books in high school and college (Anthem, The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged). I plan to re-read them, as I know my perceptions have shifted in becoming an adult. Check her out. I could fill a blog post and then some about her, her life, and her works.

This post was partially inspired by a conversation between my friend Justin and I.

In the fall of 2010, we originally met as classmates in Halliday’s Basic Broadcasting class. I’ll admit, at first, Justin intimidated me. He towered over me, plus he was taller than everyone else, with the exception of the two basketball players in the class.

He normally dressed in all black, didn’t say much to anyone, and appeared “emo” to me.

But I didn’t know him then.

On the flip side, Justin thought I was a super energetic sorority girl who took notes constantly. I mean, I literally wrote down almost everything that either Halliday said, or what was on his PowerPoints. Yeah, I was that kid.

Justin said, “Do not judge the holy man to be 100 percent pure, and do not judge the kid all in black of being incapable of giving and feeling love.”

In short, this goes back to the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Because of this conversation, I started looking at the people around me a bit differently.

I personally try, with all my might, to not judge anyone. I want to make an honest effort to get to know people first, before deciding if I like them or not.

For the most part, I get along with almost everyone. I kill with kindness, so to speak. However, there are some people, and some character traits, that just bug the hell out of me and drive me crazy. So, my resolve is to avoid these people and character traits as much as I can. If there are instances where I can’t avoid them, I just smile, nod, and get through it. And if it becomes unbearable or massively uncomfortable, I cut them out of my life. It’s happened before, and it will probably happen some more in the future. It’s really freeing, actually.

With Justin, I may have been intimidated at first, but that didn’t last long. We ended up in group projects for both of Halliday’s Broadcasting classes, and we progressed from classmates to being friends. Now, four years later, we’re close friends and enjoy meeting up as often as possible with our significant others.

Justin also shared this system he had come up with a while ago, called “The Caste of 4 Wings.”

“What you wear and how you act around strangers and friends are key factors in how your wings will be seen”

There are four types of wings that people can possess:

  1. White Angel Wings: People who are seen by society and others to be good, caring, and warm people. In truth they are that. They help out others, volunteer, do good work for others.
  2. Black Demon Wings: People who are seen as no good and untrustworthy, evil and vile. They live up to that, as they abuse people, murder, rob, treat others like shit.
  3. Black Angel Wings: Wings wore by people who are seen as good people and someone you can trust but in reality they are the opposite. Can manipulate people, use the trust of others and exploit it for their own personal gain. How they are seen by others is not who they really are.
  4. White Demon Wings: Wings wore by people deemed by society as a menace, like outsiders or loners who people think don’t do anything really. In reality they just want to love people, can perhaps be hurt and want others to say “It’s okay.” and despite what others see them as, their true friends know the goodness, love, and kindness in their hearts.

I was absolutely fascinated as Justin was explaining this to me.

Then it shifted to what wings we thought we had. For me, I thought it over for a while.

In the past, I’ve been characterized as having White Angel Wings – Being the teacher’s pet, being a “goody two-shoes,” volunteering my time and talents, always willing to sign up, step up, and help anyone.

And over the years, that hasn’t really changed, I don’t think. I’ve always tried to be warm, caring, and a good person overall. However, I’m certainly not perfect, nor do I want to be. So I may have White Angel Wings, but I try to be as humble and down-to-earth as possible.

Justin considers himself to have White Demon Wings. Once I read the explanation, it made perfect sense. This is how I saw him when we first met at Longwood. I personally never saw him as a “menace,” but I originally thought he was a loner and kept to himself. I knew he loved video games. I wasn’t sure about him and his personality, at first.

In reality, he’s a wonderful guy, with such a big heart. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him better over the last few years, and he’s a great friend. I’m so happy that he’s found love with his girlfriend Heaven. He enjoys his solitude and he’s definitely a gamer, but those are not bad things. He likes to plan get-togethers with our group of six friends (Al, me, Justin, Heaven, Drew, and Katie). We’re stoked about going to Kings Dominion in a week and a half with Al, Heaven, Katie, and our friends Brian and Mike.

As I thought about “The Caste of 4 Wings,” I realized there are people that I have encountered in my 26 years on this Earth who have all four types of wings. I certainly prefer to interact with the ones that have White Angel Wings and White Demon Wings. However, I’ve acknowledged that a select few that I’ve known have had Black Angel Wings and Black Demon Wings. Fortunately, most of them have faded from my life, at this point. There are a few that are manipulators that I have to deal with and have dealt with, but as long as I’m able to take them in small doses, I’m good.

These wings can be applied to everyone. I’ve thought about those who have made headlines recently, from the President, to Dylann Roof, to the Pope, to the people who report the news.

  • President Obama: Due to the nature of his position, as a politician in the U.S. and now the Commander-in-Chief, I would classify him as having Black Angel Wings, from my perspective. However, there are others that probably perceive him as having Black Demon Wings. In fact, there are probably people in this country that have thought of him as having all four kinds of wings, at certain points in his career.
  • Dylann Roof: As the suspected shooter of nine black people in a South Carolina church, this guy has Black Demon Wings, all the way. I can’t see it another way.
  • Pope Francis: Like the President, I’m sure people have thought of the Pope as having different kinds of wings. For me, I’m happy that he has been proactive on so many issues. Because of that, and the appearance of a warm, caring nature for everyone, I would give him White Angel Wings.
  • News Anchors/Reporters: As a mass media major in college, I definitely got an education on what news reporters and anchors do and how the broadcasting realm works. Their images are projected for all to see, but we don’t really see them off-camera. We don’t know who they really are when the camera turns off. Again, people have probably given them all four types of wings at some point. It’s hard to pinpoint, but for me, I can see them having Black Angel Wings or White Demon Wings, and in rare instances, White Angel Wings.

Keep in mind, these are just examples. And these are strictly my thoughts and opinions.

What do you think?

I’m glad Justin and I had this conversation. It really has changed my perspective on people, both in my life and those that I have never met.

I really like “The Caste of 4 Wings,” and I’m happy Justin shared it with me. Now I find myself thinking of people in terms of what wings I think they have, and then setting out to see if my perceptions are really true, or not. It’s fascinating to think about. This is something that will stick with me forever.

I encourage you to try it for yourself. Think about the wings you think you have, and then the wings of people around you. You might surprise yourself. I know it surprised me.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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