Empathy, Toxic Ships, and How America Creates its Own Villains

Sometimes you gotta care for the Cain and sometimes you gotta care for the Abel.”


One morning I woke up and that’s the only line I remembered from a dream and I woke up and jotted it down to dissect later. Growing up my mom didn’t force any kind of religion on us as my mom was raised a Jehovah’s Witness. I’m spiritual but I’m not into organized religion but I do appreciate some people who lead such organizations as they defy the stereotypes in most black communities. I appreciate people in general no matter their religion, race, or creed.

I Googled the line thinking maybe it was a lyric from a song and nothing came up. So, I Googled some more. I knew Cain and Abel were brothers and one killed the other out of jealousy and lust and that’s about the extent of the story I remembered because as a kid I grew up in a library (no exaggeration). I read everything. I read encyclopedias (shout out to Britannica), magazines, manuals, bible verses, and even newspapers. I read a lot of things before I was old enough to comprehend them.

But back to the line: Sometimes you gotta care for the Cain and sometimes you gotta care for the Abel.

Dissecting that personally is heavy. “What does it mean?”

Empathy, Toxic Ships, and How America Creates its Own Villains

It’s racked my brain for about a week now and I guess I wasn’t ready to get it. I didn’t have all the puzzle pieces to see the whole picture yet. Cain killed his brother Abel. Religion is uncharted territory for me as I’m spiritual. I believe in a higher being and the universe. I believe in a God as it would be selfish to think that we’re the creators of Earth. I’ve also seen so many churches and leaders from different religions do some very ungodly things.

When the world is spinning out of control it’s important to find your center and not let people push you off balance because they struggled to find their center.


In my 31 years of life, it’s been in my nature to care for everyone and see the light in even the darkest people but trying to love someone toxic, family or friends could be the very thing that leads to your demise. By all means, I’m not saying give up your light. Continue to be kind even to the unkind people but don’t trust your light in other people’s hands as sometimes they don’t know they’re dimming your light as their lamps are wired differently. You can care but don’t care so much for them that you deplete your inventory of care for yourself. It’s almost like giving someone a loan all the time knowing you’ll never get it back even when you may need it.

Another heavy interpretation…

“Every sinner has a future and every saint has a past.” – Oscar Wilde

I will admit that there’s a minor part in me that’s naive even after the experiences I’ve had. But I’m an optimist at heart and going into things with an open mind has opened more doors than closed them for me. I know people may disagree with me but that’s fine. 


Every murderer, robber, and fugitive has a future possible of redemption. On my Doom Patrol binge I jotted down the quote, “It’s easy to make bad choices when all you have is bad options.” In today’s society that rings true.

I’m not saying that evil people don’t exist but there is good in most people. When someone murders someone else in my opinion more than just that one life is affected. On one hand, the murderer took away a person from their family and friends. That murderer most likely ends up incarcerated away from their family and friends and in the American prison system where there is no corrective education/training in a for-profit “correctional” facility. There’s no rehabilitation or opportunities for redemption. According to 2020 research 2 out of 3 people are rearrested and more than 50% are incarcerated again. It’s mostly an adult timeout where prisons get paid for the more prisoners they have so why would they help offenders if it would hurt their bottom line?

On the other hand, society praises these amazing people who have accomplished astounding things and were handed less bad options like better education, opportunities, and someone to intervene before they could fall victim to the school to prison pipeline. “A student not reading at their level by the end of third grade is four times less likely to graduate. Dropouts are sixty-three more times likely to be incarcerated” and some for-profit prisons use literacy scores to project capacity. The good news is that Pennsylvania doesn’t have any for-profit prisons and for the first time in a while, the United States Prison Population is declining.

This isn’t discrediting the saints’ hard work and success but it seems like American society systematically sometimes creates their own villains to profit off of them. The lack of mental health resources, educational resources, and social-economic mobility makes the land of the free a lot more frustrating and expensive for someone who wants to do good but wasn’t given many good options. It’s much easier to fail in a system set up for you to fail than to succeed. Wrong is wrong and right is right but America needs to explore the why is this happening part a little more?

Both interpretations are heavy to carry and messy to untangle. Maybe both are interconnected. Some toxic people don’t know they’re toxic and become evil in someone else’s eyes. Or maybe, someone hurt the toxic person so badly that they’ve become the villain. Jealousy is never justified but until America can stop saying what happened and dissect why it’s happening, we’ll never get to the root of these systematic issues. We have to foster positive growth in both Cain’s and Abel’s to avoid the demise of both. Maybe the story would have never taken place if there was adequate care for both sides. No one is born a villain and no one is born a hero, it’s what leads up to that point that makes or breaks their identity.

“You can’t give two students the same plant and ask them to grow it when you know one student lives in a house with windows and the other has just one window. You can’t expect the plant to live.” – @justdae

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Lindsey says:

    Nailed it boo!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Angel Hawkins 2 says:

    Beautifully worded !!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Miss Bernie says:

    Grandpa Prince lives on in your words. Beautiful; speak your truth.

    Liked by 1 person

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