We all get hung up on good and evil. We like to think it’s all black and white and ignore the grey. Unless that is, we are the one getting called evil. Then we like to justify, modify, rectify, and simplify what we did, it wasn’t a lie, it was a while lie. Sure I cheated, but my wife/gf takes me for granted. Well I did call in sick for the ball game, but we were overstaffed, and I never call in. With others though, it’s usually black and white, cut and dry, good and evil.
Truth is though that’s seldom the case, life and all those living in it spend most of their time in the grey. There’s a little good and bad in all of us, with possibly a few exceptions, and who knows, maybe even those monsters and saints have a little taste for the other side. Hitler slaughtered millions, but can we say there was never, ever any good in him? OK probably not, at least not nearly enough to balance the scales, or even tip them a little. It seems like most of the saints do end up having secrets drug out. Martin Luther King apparently had some infidelities, JFK most certainly did, and now even Mother Theresa’s name is being brought up in the Catholic child sex controversy. Not that she was active in abusing but she may have turned a blind eye and urged leniency for some accused. The fact that these people, thought great inspiring leaders, have sins dug up after they die, really goes toward proving the point of this exercise.
It’s like Mark Anthony said by way of London Willie, “The evil that men do live after them, while the good is oft interred with their bones.” Even though we say don’t speak ill of the dead, we often do. True there are those who have their evil or at least questionable past colored over by an untimely death. Michael Jackson’s pedophilia accusations all disappeared when he died, not totally, but where only a short time before his death he was a joke, afterwards he was again the King of Pop. That’s the exception that pretty much proves the rule though. Everyone knows Hitler killed millions of people, no one knows if he loved his mother. Charlie Manson’s crimes overshadow any good in his life, even though he never personally killed anyone as far as we know. Probably most of the people who know his name, don’t know that he basically directed others to kill, but kept his hands clean. Was he evil, probably, but did he have any good? We’ll never know and really even broaching that subject will make people look at you strange. He’s the boogie man, that’s all we need to know.
What about me, and you for that matter? Are we good? Are we evil? Are we a little of both. I have struggled with myself, am I good or evil. I have friends who think I am a really good guy, but I also know they don’t know everything about me. My thoughts, even some of my actions that might make them hate, or even fear me. I have told people there is a monster inside me that I fight to control, and I don’t always win. Does the fact the monster exists, make me evil, or does my fight to control that base side make me good? Like most things, like most people, probably it is a little of both.
So I think I will take Mark’s speech to heart. When I die I want my friends to list all that was good about me. Then I want that tattooed on my body. I want the good interred with my bones. An illustrated corpse to prove I had worth, that I was never totally bad. Maybe that script could be my coin for Charon, to pay my way across the Styx. My pound of flesh to satisfy whatever God might care. Or maybe, in the end, like so many deeds, both good and bad, it would be ultimately meaningless.