Why do bad people do nice things? I don’t know why. They just do, at least the ones I personally know, the ones I call “friends”. They’re not close friends, thought. When they invite my wife and me to their homes, it’s just us and them. Our bad friends don’t mingle us with their other bad friends, if they ARE bad. Maybe the other friends are just medium bad, or medium good, depending on which side you’re on.
Now you wouldn’t be surprised if I told you my bad friends don’t know they’re bad. And if I told them, they would believe me. They would scan their wide but private universe and point out that most of the population thinks as they do, and that all of their friends (who might be bad too) are successful, influential and contribute to all kinds of charities that support the have-nots.
I suspect that’s true. Lots of bad people (not all, but lots) do nice things for those less fortunate, like making Christmas gift baskets for poor kids living with parents in homeless missions or sending fat checks to the Salvation Army and UNICEF. Or they invite my wife and me to their country club for dinner and give us the keys to their Laguna Beach second home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They would lend us their Mercedes if I asked them.
I have no idea why they like me. Or maybe they don’t. Maybe they like my wife. Everyone loves my wife. She’s the comet, I’m the tail.
Anyway, those same generous people who stuff holiday stockings and donate to food banks do everything they can to avoid paying taxes where their contributions might be used for supporting things for everyone else. They’re not particularly concerned with our country’s crumbling education system, the contamination of our natural resources, the widening divide between the super rich and the other 99%, climate change, hate crimes, racial profiling, corrupt police departments, underpaid firefighters and teachers, healthcare for low income families, or the ever mounting congestion on our city streets and highways with it’s broken bridges, tunnels and outdated traffic models.
Now to be fair, the bad people don’t deny those problems need attention. It’s just that expanding commerce and profit margins must come first and that everything else that needs fixing, they believe, will come out of that. They also believe technology will rescue the world and global warming will cool down in three years.
(If you’re a member of the Bad-Person Party, keep reading. Part 2 of this post is titled: WHY GOOD PEOPLE DO BAD THINGS.)
Now as I said, bad people don’t think they’re bad. In fact, they think they’re the only rational thinkers around and it’s only prudent that the rest of us jump on their train. That’s why they’re working so hard to shape (or force) government policy to work 100% in their favor.
The good people, with all their own save-the-planet priorities, want government support just as much, but they don’t suppress the voting privileges of anyone who isn’t in the commerce club. And they’re not separating the rich immigrants from the poor immigrants and trying to keep the poor ones out. And they’re not crushing unions or branding unemployed people as takers and slackers.
There are exceptions. Not every good person is totally good. There’s no black and white. More on that later.
I don’t know why, but I was born thinking this way and my life experiences definitely deepened my attitudes. I grew up in a middle class Jewish family but when I left college, I was poor for five years. Then I broke into Hollywood and worked freelance all the rest of my life. A third of the time I lived between jobs collecting unemployment insurance. My union, which demanded expensive dues, helped me build a pension and took care of my family’s medical bills. My taxes paid for garbage pick up, fire and police protection, state colleges and a national army that kept the real bad guys away.
I accepted that. Taxes are like paying union dues but into a bigger pool. It’s an Association Fee. And yes, I did get what I paid for. Today I’m retired and living the American Dream. Sad to say, I’m the last generation to have the dwindling social safety nets. It’s so much harder to rise up the ranks today.
But enough ranting! If I don’t stop, I’ll get into how good guys in this administration let off the bad guys who did…
- Crimes of torture.
- The near destruction of the entire global economy.
- The invasion of world-wide personal privacy.
Yes, all of that bad stuff! And all for the right reasons! Right reasons make good people do bad things, and I’m no exception. (Okay, for this post, assume I’m a GOOD person, ‘cause I’m about to give a Catholic-like confession.)
WHY GOOD PEOPLE DO BAD THINGS
I’m not a tree hugger but when nature dies from drought and pollution, I think it’s a smart idea to conserve water and contain waste. Being the responsible, passionate, informed, involved and caring dude that I am, I contribute to let’s-help-save-everything causes.
However, I also hate, and I mean HATE, getting solicitation calls about giving more and more and more. I don’t like being pressured to do anything and I feel uncomfortable pressing someone else to do things as well, even for all the right reasons.
(This is why it took an entire post to talk myself into asking you to read my novels.)
So I’m admitting now, that I have hung up on people who need a job and get one at call centers. Politely asking them to stop the invasion doesn’t end the calls. So I have been rude, I have screamed, I have considered blowing a whistle into the handset just so they’ll stop coming into my home with more and more and more guilt inducing phone rings. I’m telling you this because tonight I pushed Solicitor Rejection way into the stratosphere.
I watch very little TV but I won’t miss Rachel Maddow’s news show. It’s like going to college civics class where the subject is always studied in depth. Tonight she was explaining the CIA torture policy, how it came to be, why it was killed in the 70’s and how it was resuscitated after 911. Every word was compelling, super serious and depressing. Then my doorbell rang.
I called out to my wife, only to discover, with silence, that she had left the house. The doorbell rang again. I knew who it was. It was FedEx or UPS needing a signature for another movie screener DVD I’m supposed to watch for Oscar voting. So I raced towards the front door imaging myself drawing a line for my name as I said a quick “Thank you.” Then back to the TV I would fly. Eighteen, nineteen seconds of lost info. Not much. I would still pick up the story and process the knowledge.
So sliding to a stop, I swung the door open and saw a man, maybe thirty, standing in the dark holding a bunch of papers and wearing an ID badge and a big gold cross suspended from his neck. I knew what was coming.
No! NO! NOOOOO! Not another breach into my privacy! Tick-tick-tick. No time for polite words. Tick-tick-tick. No time for my story about supporting battered women and under priviledged kids needing uniforms for little league teams. Tick-tick-tick. No time for hearing his sympathy pitch.
So just as he was saying, “Hello, sir…” I shut the door on a Black man.
Seven seconds later I was back on my bed watching Rachel but hearing none of her words. All I could do was think about the disgusting impression I just made and how a liberal person like me just reinforced the perception that most, if not all, affluent white people hate Blacks and refuse them even an ounce of respect.
I’m so ashamed about this, I won’t tell my wife. She’ll never know unless she reads this blog. But YOU know. You SHOULD know because my mini drama points out that good people do bad things. We must not forget that.
And I will also admit, that I can’t help liking my Republican friends because they do all sorts of kind and nice things for me. I accept their gifts as I judge their ethics.
So what does that make me? Am I a bad person too?