Friday, July 27, 2018

A Dog's Eye: The measure of a good man part 1

Death seems to make saints of so many sinners. When somebody dies, there is very rarely a bad word spoken about them because it is generally accepted that one should not speak ill of the dead, particularly the recently departed.

Does that mean it is okay to criticize and belittle people, to speak hateful, spiteful words, and to highlight someone's faults while they are alive, but when they die they become untouchable? It seems sometimes only death allows a person to be fully forgiven for the wrongs they have committed in life. People are judged much more harshly during their lifetime than at their death. Although the deceased's enemies would no doubt say what a bad person they were, and happily point out their failings and "sins", no one wants to hear that. It makes us all feel much better if the goodness of the person is emphasized.

Friends say it is bad that a good person has died, while enemies say it is good that a bad person has died, and they could be talking about the same person. Both are expressing opinions. Everybody can be good or bad because it depends on a personal point of view. A person's goodness or badness is entirely relative. When you listen to people talk about others, their comments are usually based on what that person has done for them, or for someone they know.

Here's an example: Bill is talking to Fred about George who is a mechanic at a local garage. Bill says that George is a good bloke because he helped Bill's sister when her car broke down and he didn't charge her anything. Fred does not like George because George gave him an outrageously high quote for some repair work, and then became angry when Fred wanted to get another quote. Bill says George is a good man, but Fred says he is a bad man. Both are making judgments solely on their experience of George. If the two men were talking to you about George, how would you judge him? Regardless of what you think, what is the true ,objective measure of a good man?

I will attempt to answer that question in the next installment. 

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