Good Can Win Over Evil if…

In RL Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, it is clear that everyone has good and evil within. To remove the evil in order to be 100% pure good, means that the 100% bad part is freed into the wild with dangerous consequences.

Although the total good or evil remains the same, the effect is a strange case indeed. Perhaps it’s not what you do, but the way that you do it? Perhaps we ought to have the internal good v evil battle to “win” and be virtuous or worthy of the afterlife in heaven… or something.

It is a fascinating novella, and a great subject for discussion and thought. However, the most interesting notion to be teased from this work is, for me, the external manifestation of good and of evil.

Let me go further, does the good erase or in some way make up for any bad that someone does. I don’t mean atonement or penance, not exactly (although that is also very interesting), rather, I am taken with the idea of someone inventing or discovering something, but being a thoroughly disagreeable person – perhaps even considered evil.

I know that this is a poor introduction to what I am on about. Sorry about that. It’s just that it seems to come up again and again in recent times.

Take Wagner – a brilliant, innovative and unique composer – but a Nazi sympathiser and Jew-hater. Even today, his music is taboo in Israel. Can it be possible or reasonable to separate the man from his work – to allow yourself to enjoy his music and disagree with his politics?

In recent times in the UK, it has become clear that in some celebrities at least, the evil side of the personality triumphed from time to time. Jimmy Savile became a prominent BBC radio and television personality, gained fans and followers, brought entertainment and enjoyment to millions, and raised over £40 million for charities. However, it seems he might have had a dark side as a sexual predator. All of which has come out after he died.

Do the allegations and accusations overthrow or trump the good works?

Should they?

Rolf Harris was a role model – someone to look up to, a national treasure, but he’s in jail for sexual offenses. How should I feel about that?

Wagner was open and unapologetic, but no-one knew any bad things about Savile until after he died. Harris’s dark side was hidden – but he was found out while alive, and brought to justice.

Some people say that we ought not to speak ill of the dead, and I am inclined that way myself particularly if nothing can be gained by raking up evil.

Take Savile – he did good works and died. His bad side was then discovered. The big question I had at the time this came out in the media was – why did no-one speak up while he was alive to defend, respond or be brought to justice. If he was prolific as is suggested, surely some of the blame has to be borne by those who, by keeping schtum, allowed further abuse to take place. But all-in-all, what overall good would come of posting allegations over the front pages? I do think that the end result of this particular case is to negate the good. So the whole thing is just pure Mr. Hyde.

Wagner is different. He did not hide his antisemitic views. I wonder that – if he had held them as a dark secret – would people stop liking his music upon discovering “the truth”? Another thought – would his personal beliefs make people listen to his music? And so what? Does anything matter? If his beliefs were not known, what difference would it make to his music, and how it is received as music?

Pop Stars align themselves with political movements – should they? Should it matter to us? Should I stop liking or listening to their songs?

Rolf Harris is different again; he was disgraced and will pay his debt to society. By going to jail, by apologising and atoning, he is cleansed. In theory anyway. Harris faced justice, and gets a clean slate – so all his works, his TV, his books, his paintings – even his pop songs, all should be OK to like – shouldn’t they?

My thought is that we should always be inclined to good, to an exemplary life – even if fake. Why? Because fake is normal. We each have good and evil. We do good and bad, we have to try to let good win. Good must outweigh bad in the scales.

That way lies hope.

Savile did good for more people than he did bad. That’s tough to type in this climate; it goes against everything just now. Same with Harris. Unlike Savile, Harris was found guilty – and is paying. Wagner didn’t even DO anything; he merely held a view that is unpopular. Why can’t we just focus on the good stuff as a default rule? Doing so doesn’t condone crime or evil or unpopular extremist views. Really it doesn’t.

Michael Jackson was a long list of accusations of child abuse, and yet it is widely considered acceptable to enjoy his musical legacy without a care about all that – why? Why is Jackson different from Savile? Jackson didn’t do as much for charity as Savile – Jackson was keeping his money for himself. Is this a double standard?

I remember when Rock Hudson died and it came out that he was actually homosexual. He clearly did not want this to be known while he was alive. He did not want to represent homosexuality. that’s just who he was and what he wanted to do. To out him after his death is not really fair to my mind.

Now I am not for one minute suggesting that homosexuality is evil or that Hudson’s dark side contained his gay secret. I am suggesting that he was careful about his public image and probably would have wanted to maintain that as his legacy. What good did outing him bring? People today look at him playing the very heterosexual male roles in pictures, and know what he really was – and that was likely to be exactly what Rock Hudson did not want to happen. People may even boycott his films because of that. I have heard of Christian fundamentalists taking that view.

There seems to be a popular trend for seeing the bad in people, in revealing things that ought to be hidden, and I don’t go along with that.

If someone was struggling with a personal issue, a dark side, a kink, an addiction – whatever, what business is it of mine? What good does it do society at large to display the flaws sufficient to overshadow any goodness?

I would suggest that the sooner we as a society drop this trend in favour of role models of positivity and good, then we can return to aspiration, looking forward, making good, advancement, and betterment.

Bereavement and The Work’s Phone

I heard that James had died. It was sudden and unexpected. Everyone in the office was astonished – and then felt sad for his family. His daughter’s wedding day was near.

It had nothing to do with us, but someone at Head Office would have to sort out everything. The company car, mobile phone, clear his desk, do something with his e-mail and hard drive and who-knows-what-else – all would need to be dealt with as soon as possible to allow his family and friends to get on.

It’s not too callous, I hope, but the workload increased, and we were all too busy to dwell on such things.

Time passes quickly, and the company recruited a few new people who had never known James. I thought Alan was one of them, but it turned out that he did know James – and that he had worked at this company with James for years, many years ago.

Alan went through the usual forms and inductions, and was given a company phone, car and a desk with a laptop. Nothing unusual in all of this until last week.

Last week he started receiving weird phone calls from a sobbing woman. After a while he discovered that it was James’s daughter.

The company had given Alan James’s old phone and phone number, and James’s daughter had been regularly calling to hear her dad’s voicemail message – to hear his voice. This was a comfort to her. She’d been talking to him, leaving long and emotional messages about her wedding and then about her pregnancy.

When Alan answered, she got such a fright. She then realised that Alan could hear back her very personal messages – and that she would never again hear her daddy’s voice because Alan had erased the outgoing message with his own.

Of course, Alan, immediately erased all her recordings, and apologised as best he could.

Surely there ought to be some kind of procedure for this sort of thing? Something better than what happened here.

Is it better that Alan knew her, that he knew and worked with James? Or would it have been better had he been a complete new start to the firm?

A modern world brings modern ails.

 

Blending In

My son was recently invited to a birthday party.

The invitation stated conditions. Not merely the date, time and place – but also that it was a Nerf Gun party and everyone had to be in army camouflage.

Well, an 8 year old wants to oblige, so we had to have a panic trip to the shops to get camouflage trousers.

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After an hour  in a major mall, we managed to source camouflage trousers. He was delighted; he wanted to fit in.

I dropped him off at the softplay centre for the party. he was the only one who had bothered about the camouflage theme. Seriously.

As I drove away, it occurred to me that I was worried about my son not fitting in, that he would stand out because he was in camouflage.

Then I realised how preposterous / ironic that was.

Another Almost Perfect Crime

This is a tale of tragedy. It begins pleasantly, but soon descends into intrigue, crime, betrayal and revenge. And it is all true.

It was back in the early 1980s, John and his pal, Al, decided, on a whim, to dine away a Friday evening at a good Chinese Restaurant on the Southside of the city.

Being a warm summer’s evening, the traffic in Glasgow was as light as the evening. The restaurant was pretty busy, so they were lucky to get a table without a booking. By the time they had ordered, it had filled up.

“Well, hello there chaps!”

John looked up, “Hello there Billy – how’s it going?”

“Not bad, John, not bad.”

“Are you out and about tonight, Billy?” asked Al

“No, no, just staying in tonight; I haven’t got paid yet, but I’m starving, so I thought I’d pop in here and get a cheap take away deal, you know, and watch the telly with my mum.”

“Nope. I won’t hear of it. Not at all; Billy, come and join us – Al shift up!”

And that is what happened. And that is how it all started.

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The waiter asked if they would like more drinks, and was also given Billy’s food order.

When the food came, they ordered yet more drinks. The alcohol began to take effect, and they relaxed, chatting and laughing through the meal. But Billy was slightly less relaxed because the terms were not made clear at the outset.

“Listen guys, I told you I was strapped for cash, could you lend me a fiver? That should do it; I have enough for the rest, I think…”

“Oh, don’t worry, Billy, mate, we’ll take care of it”, offered Al.

“Now wait a minute”, said John, a thoughtful look on his face, “I have an idea!”

Billy and Al listened to the plan as it unfolded from John’s imagination. It went something like this: Billy would finish at some point, get up and leave. John and Al would stay, maybe have another drink, then get the bill. They would refuse to pay for Billy as he had just sat down with them for a while. Billy would get a free meal!

Well, the three of them were just drunk enough to think this was worth a shot. Billy downed his lager, cast down his napkin, slipped on his jacket and left.

Everything went  according to plan – the waiter was cross, the manager came over. John protested about paying someone else’s bill.

People in nearby tables chimed in – telling the manager that the man had come in afterwards and was not actually with the two gentlemen – who came in for a meal together. The manager was chattering in Chinese to his staff.

“The Police have been Called!” He announced.  The restaurant was in uproar.

“Shame!”

John and Al, kept quiet, and waited for it all to subside. Two policemen arrived at the table.

“These men refuse to pay bill for three covers” explained the manager.

John, Al and most of the restaurant told the story – that these two men came in, got a table together, ordered together, and asked to pay the bill together. They were not refusing to pay for the food and drink consumed. A gentleman came in ordered food and drink, and then left without paying his bill, and there were plenty of witnesses to back up this version of events.

The policemen explained to the manager that John and Al hadn’t broken any law, and that the restaurant could not force someone to pay someone else’s bill.

The restaurant cheered. The Chinese staff were forlorn. John caught Al’s eye, and smiled as they waited for their change and receipt.

Suddenly, the door opened – and in came Billy.

“That’s the man! – That’s him!”

“Sorry, guys, I saw the police car, and I cannot let you get arrested on my behalf!” blurted Billy.

John and Al tried in vain to stop Billy. “Ah there you are! These people tried to make us pay your bill, have you come back to pay…?”

“Look, officer”, Billy kept on, “We cooked up the whole plan to try to get off without paying for me, I’m sorry; it’s not like me. I can pay most of it, and I’m good for the rest next week…”

And so, to the horror of almost everyone (except the Chinese), the game was up, the cat was very much out of the bag, and the truth was out.  The Chinese looked at the police, the police winked at the Chinese.

“As you have returned to deal with the restaurant, we are no longer needed. We’re sure you will come to ‘an agreement’ – good night all”.

The three drunks’ acute embarrassment was soon replaced by horror, as they were escorted from the restaurant, through the kitchen, and out into the dark lane.

There they were held while their shoes and socks were removed by Chinese kitchen staff.

And there they were held while the chef thoroughly beat the soles of their feet using strange Oriental kitchen implements.

They couldn’t walk properly for almost a month afterwards.

 

The Biscuit Tormentor

My mother usually ended her supermarket shopping trips with a tea break at the supermarket’s café.

She would park her trolley after removing her newspaper and digestive biscuits. On ordering a cup of tea, she’d relax with the crossword, dunking her biscuits in her tea.

On this particular day, a lady slipped into the booth to share the table. My mother glanced up and gave an acquiescent nod to indicate that the seat was not taken. Mother was engrossed in her crossword and the teacups arrived.

She then became aware that the woman opposite had taken a biscuit and was dunking! So she cleared her throat, and made something of a display of taking the next biscuit and dunking. That ought to do the trick she thought.

Mother was astonished to notice that the woman had the bare-faced cheek to reach into the pack and remove another digestive!

Well, this just won’t do, mother thought. She moved the packet from the centre of the table into her side, and she took her next biscuit while tutting and slightly shaking her head.

This woman paused in her reading of her paper, looked up at mother – and pulled the pack back to the centre of the table, removed another one, and dunked!

Well, that was that! Mother couldn’t concentrate on her crossword anymore. She finished her tea, got up with an “how dare she” attitude, and left, thinking that this woman was welcome to the rest of the pack.

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She put her groceries in the car, returned the trolley, and drove home in a fluster.

When she arrived, she sat for a minute in the car, trying to calm down.

“What is the world coming to?” she wondered.

After a deep breath, she composed herself and took in the grocery bags, and as she started putting the things away, she came across her packet of digestives, and the sudden, horrifying realisation that it was she who was scoffing that woman’s biscuits, and not the other way around. She was mortified with shame and embarrassment; what must that poor woman have thought of her as she sat opposite, openly stealing her biscuits from her, right in front of her face?