There is something sadly human about it. Possibly even, sadly masculine about it. From cartoons to video games, kids (particularly boys) not only buy into, but are instinctively drawn toward this myth, as we take on the role of "good guy" (after all, most of us want to believe that, in such a messed up world, at least we, ourselves, are “good”) and project our own less that laudable personality traits onto the bad guy. "You loser!" “You're nothing but a violent punk.” From pretending to be Superman in our backyard as kids to playing Call of Duty or even Angry Birds as grown ups, we have a deep inward desire (need?) to take on our perceived role as “good guy” and project our negative, violent, aggressive and even lustful behavior onto the villain (be they Lex Luthor or eggs stealing pigs... those nasty, rotten, mucus-nosed, structure-building, egg-stealing pigs... but I digress).
In a sort of sub-conscious psychological dance, we attempt to vanquish this world of all the evil we see in ourselves and in others through acts of physicality, violence and aggression which we justify by pointing to the higher good they achieve – ridding the world of nastiness and evil. That's the myth of redemptive violence. It says that violence can end violence, that war can make peace, that domination can usher in equality.
The reality of it is that it breeds. Violence breeds violence. War breeds war. Domination breeds domination. Superman never ushers in world peace. He keeps fighting the same battles over and over again.
It turns out, we already understand this reality of violence and war; we already intrinsically get that redemptive violence truly is a myth. Even as we played superheroes as kids, we understood that our actions would never really end the violence in the world. We knew that victory was temporary when it was won through force. We knew that Superman would never usher in world peace. We hoped for it, but we knew different. We cannot beat the demons within (or without) by calling on the very source of their power – namely, excerpting power over others.
As Christians we are called to practice the love of our enemy (even the one within). The concept is essentially “redemptive love.” Rather than practicing power over, it calls us to participate in power with. In short, Jesus calls us to stick with love. At all cost. Just look at his own life.
As for me, I've decided to go with the advice of Dr. Martin Luther King who once said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”