Saturday 28 November 2015

Downing on the do-gooders

I've been watching a lot of Criminal Minds recently. It helps. It helps because Reid and Garcia, obviously (and if it's not obvious you've not been paying attention - yes I can read that fast if I want to - I just choose sometimes not to these days because burn out). But it's also helping me think about monsters. And about the concept of doing good.

When I was a child, I went to Sunday Mass. I hated it. It was in Latin and I didn't come from a background where Latin was needed much (unsurprisingly) so the entire service was incomprehensible wailing and murmuring. Sorry Catholics. But that's my takeaway from your religion.

So anyway. I went to Sunday Mass. And I read a version of the bible that had super scary pictures in it that was supposed to be suitable for children but had illustrations that put Bosch to shame. No me either. Understandably, I preferred Wind in the Willows. But my take away from all religion, somewhat amusingly and naively given recent events, was that religion was just a reason, a thing to make it okay to want to be good.

I can't count the times I was intentionally bad as a child on my fingers. I got into trouble a lot at home but that's a different story and one I won't tell as it's not my story, really. But I never intentionally misbehaved. I was just an aspie kid and a bit random, a bit focused, got a lot lost in what I was doing, and time was genuinely this wifty wafty wavy thing I didn't understand too much. But intentional? Nope. Not so much. In the grand scheme of things I was pretty well behaved, all things considered, terror will do that to a kid.

But religion as a motivator for said behaviour? Nope. I just never understood it. I guess I'm not too good at imagining stuff I can't see. And the whole God concept? Too tricky. Unquantifiable.

But wanting to be a good person? That I could grok. I knew good when I saw it and I wanted to be it. And watching Criminal Minds has made me think a lot about the concept of goodness. Goodness and evil. Monsters and those who fight them. And I come to realise that what motivates someone to want to fight monsters can be many things. It can be a personal interaction with a monster. It can be religion. It can be a need to protect. All of these are valid. All of these result in the same outcome - that good is done.

And I come to realise that good doesn't care what your motivator is. The person who benefits from the doing of good doesn't care a jot either. No one asks what religion their nurse follows. No one cares whether the man driving the fire engine is of God or not. No. All anyone cares about at the crossroads of good and fear, of good and evil, of good and chaos is; did you show up.

It seems to me that the proliferation of terrorism cells, groups etc is an indulgence. It's a reflection of a world where the intersection of good and evil has become so blurred we no longer can see eithers reflection. It seems as if somehow we lost sight of what 'bad' is - killing in the name of - and in counterbalance lost sight of what to be good is - a deep seated desire to put stuff that the majority accept is wrong, back to right.

I wonder if the Ten Commandments were created in a similar situation, a similar feeling time to the one we live in now. We have dressed death in so many flags, in so many religions, in so many races and ethnic creeds that I no longer understand whether it is a human underneath the dress or a scarecrow. All I know is this.

Killing in the name of anything at all is still killing. And killing offensively is murder. I don't care who it is you're killing, that's a life you're taking. I get it's grey. I do understand that. But who made it grey? Did you?

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