Life is plebian, that is: there is always the moment awake lying down before sleep, and still that moment of awake but not up yet after a sleep. Noone escapes these two moments except in extreme cases (which I will set aside). Why is it easy to imagine that moment for, say, St. Teresa or Marting Kuther King Jr., but not for Adolf Hitler or a religous extremist? Again, with the way in which archetypes become writ large in the media of our minds, why do some beings escape the rule of the ordinary. Darth Vader, Thor, Saddam Hussein, Mother Mary, Zeus, Saturn, these figures have a status that excepts them from ordinary. Fictional characters already escape the ordinary because they are subject only to imaginary circumstances, and not reality. The same could be said of Mother Mary or Judas, because although there are historical references to their existence, they have become mythological figures. The same goes for figures like Hitler or Pol Pot, their names have become stand-ins for such evil that although these people were as subject to daily life as anyone else, the concept of Hitler or Pol Pot overcomes the human person the names designate.
In truth, we don’t like to remember their humanity. To do so is a reminder that within the ordinariness of life, that in policy meetings and management heiarchies, these lone humans were able to effect desicion trees making ordinary citizens able to commit acts of great violence and agony. Their very humanity ties us to them, and makes us uncomfortable due to the moral accounting resuting thereof. But the “good,” we like to remember their humanity, usually. It is a reminder that even with the opressive conditions of existence, we can acheive great things as Mozart, as the Buddha, as St. Teresa.
“Good” and “evil” are very simplistic ways of dividing human beings. In a consequentionalist stance, we could judge people based merely on the effects they have had on surrounding humans. Martin Luther King Jr. is an inspiration to millions for equal rights and the power of dogged activism. Brutal dictators cause extreme agony. Most of us fall in the middle: we’re just trying to pay the rent and take care of us and ours. I prefer to know and be reminded of the obayance of all humans to our biologic needs, beacuse it is a great reminder of the extreme breadth and depth of how we may affect other people.
Now we have returned to earth and recongized these beings as having been living, just like us.