Lessons in love from Dexter and Breaking Bad, prt. 2
You are more like Dexter Morgan than you think.
In fact you are very, very much like Dexter, and like Walter White. They both have family that they care about, just like you. They both are struggling with who they are, just like you. They both are hiding something, just like you. They both fear that people will find out who they really are, just like you.
In fact, just about the only substantial difference between you and Dexter Morgan is that Dexter desires to kill people, and then he goes out and does it. The only substantial difference between you and Walter White is that he possesses the knowledge to make money selling meth, and he does it. I realize that is a substantial difference, but what we have to see is that this difference between “us” and “them” does not in any way negate the many ways in which we are the same.
What I like (and I suspect what you like also) about Dexter is not that he kills people, it is his struggle with this part of who he is, because I too struggle with parts of who I am. What I like about Walter White is not that he makes meth, it is the way he deceives himself into thinking this is okay to do since it’s for people he cares about. I too have found ways to deceive myself so I could do what I wanted to do. In normal healthy human beings, it is not the desperate brokenness of Walter White and Dexter Morgan that appeals to us, it is the web that it weaves for them, the way they justify what they do, the way they are one person in public and another person in private. We all relate to this in very deep ways.
But we are afraid. We are afraid that loving, or even accepting, these characters in our lives identifies us too much with all that is hideous in them. We cannot handle moral ambiguity. We do not know how to draw the line between loving a person and approving of what they do. No matter how much we say we admire and need unconditional love, the truth is that we actually feel subhuman if we don’t consider someone unworthy of love once their brokenness has reached a certain level. We are simply of two minds about love. Unconditional love is at the same time the most admirable thing we could ever extend to another human being, but it actually becomes less admirable to extend it the less deserving someone is of it — which of course shows it was never really unconditional love we were talking about to begin with.
This also speaks to why we struggle so much with accepting that God (or anyone else) might love us unconditionally. Though we deeply desire this kind of love, many of us feel that we have somehow crossed a line that renders us unworthy of it. We will never love unconditionally, or accept unconditional love, until we remove the conditions from it. And to love unconditionally someone like Walter White or Dexter Morgan is to love without fear, to learn that there is no point where loving someone becomes evil, or identifies you with their evil actions. Walter White and Dexter Morgan may have surrendered much of what makes them human at some point, but the only way we become as evil as they are is by insisting that the bad things they do render them unworthy of love.