I want to be a masked vigilante. I want to swing or glide or sprint or leap my way from place to place when night falls and our true selves lift from our bodies and hover over them like ghosts.

When the bustle of daily life dissolves into the murky glow of a vague moon, and the world is a dim, neon gloom that resonates beneath the outlines of perfectly formed, immovable plastic clouds. When we’re left only with the buzz of electricity and the pulsating hum of absence through which our suppressed worries begin to resurface, no longer smothered by the din of sunlit hours and the weight of everyday tasks.

Just before our memories and fantasies blend with the strangeness of dreams, which we notice happening, making us tell ourselves: I’m about to fall asleep. That’s when we’re most vulnerable, so that’s when I’d strike. But not with fists and feet and nails and a flourish of a cape. No, I want to be a masked vigilante, but not to fight against you: violent criminals who rarely sleep and never dream. Not to fight against you: the truly devious, the rotten, the despairing, and the desperate. There are already those who hunt you and laws in place to restrain you, and I’ve no talent for battle, no stomach for gore, no legal sense of justice.

I want to be a masked vigilante to fight against you: those who hurt through silence, a phrase, an insult, a gesture, in all those ways that go unchecked, unpunished, for no force has been created, no laws have been written to combat a corrupted sense of liberty and duty, a corrupted definition of strength, for whom simple words will suffice in defeating. Indeed, words are far more changing than any blow or thrust, and it’s change that I seek, not harm. So, I’d swoop down upon you each night and stand before you as a silhouette, as a shadow, as a black canvas upon which you paint the faces of all those you loath, as an embodiment of your fear—I’d force you to face your fear, which is at the root of all evil; afraid of change, afraid of difference, afraid of unanswerable questions you’ve held your tongue, spat your lies, chanted your curses, lifted your arm in the air.

I’d let your fear consume you before vanishing back into the night, only to return until you can bear it no longer and beg for it to end. Remember this feeling, I’d then say, which you instill in others. Remember what it’s like to be afraid and learn to live fearlessly to never again face such torment. Live courageously, and find that within courage exists all capacity for good, all chance at happiness.

Cover image courtesy of Chrstian Stock via Flickr

Read Christopher’s take on renaissance art here