Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Right things for wrong reasons, and wrong things for right reasons.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

And cobblestones, as I like to say.

But seriously...if there is a single cliche that lives, unmarred, close to my heart, it is that one. The idea that we, as fallable human beings, can fuck things up beyond belief in trying to do something good and decent seems very real and very true and very accurate. Hitler, for example, probably had the best of intentions. And thus was his road to hell paved.

Of course, the road to hell is not always paved with genocide. Finding a wallet on the street and taking the cash to feed your family, however hungry they might be, when the money isn't yours, is just as valid an example of how the road to hell is paved.

Of course, if my family was starving, I'd probably take the money. So would most of us.

This is why the cliche strikes such a chord in me. Not because it implies that we're all somehow damned in trying to do something good, but because the struggle to be good people, the struggle to be human, is not something played out only in the largest battlefields, but something played out in the mundane. It is a struggle we face every day, in the minutest details of life. And I believe that very, very much.

It's not what we do when everyone is watching that matters the most. It's what we do when no one else is around. It's what we choose to do when we know that no one else is watching, that is the ultimate judge of our character.

A friend of mine did something stupid recently, and it's not a road to hell kind of stupid, but it's similar, because hew as doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Or maybe it was the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Either way, it was dumb.

Not to say that I couldn't understand why he did it. I could. In a way, I think I understood it better than a lot would, and I wouldn't even go so far as to say that I wouldn't have done it myself if I had been in his shoes.

But I wasn't in his shoes. And it's so much easier to judge someone else's life than it is to judge your own. And so I can sit here and say that he's a fucking idiot, because it's his life and not mine, and I don't have to live it, or live with the choices made.

But sometimes the road to hell is a figurative one. Sometimes we face our own damnation while we're still alive. Sometimes -- in fact, more often than not, I think -- we suffer for our crimes, no matter how good the intentions, while we still walk among the living.

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