Recently, I found this article on Facebook about a repo man who had a change of heart, and then not only decided to return a car to its poor, elderly owners, but also collected gifts for them too. When I was a teenager, our family’s car was repossessed because we couldn’t afford to pay the bill anymore, so I know from personal experience that repo men do not enjoy a good reputation.
But one of the themes of the Lotus Sutra, an important Buddhist text in Mahayana Buddhism, is that all sentient beings (people, animals, etc) will become fully-enlightened Buddhas some day. Since Buddhism typically thinks big, this is something that may take many eons, but it’s a foregone conclusion.
Take for example the famous traitor in Buddhism named Devadatta. Devadatta was the Buddha’s cousin, and while he was a serious disciple at first, he also felt he could lead the fledgling Buddhist community better, and tried to takeover the community. He even tried to have the Buddha killed on three occasions, and schemed with Prince Ajatashatru to overthrow his own father and become king.
And yet, in the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha predicts that even Devadatta, who is even now said to be suffering in the lowest level of Hell, the Avici hell, will eventually find redemption and become a Buddha in some future eon.
The point of all this though is that everyone has the capability for greatness. Sometimes they just need the right trigger.