Today I have stayed all morning in bed wondering, Am I a good person? Am I a bad person?
I find that things become clearer once you organise them into orderly lists so I start on a positive note by going over all the good things I have done in my life.
Right away I have a problem with my daily purchase of The Big Issue from the sad young woman who stands, every day, all day, rain hail or shine, outside the supermarket and wishes every passer-by a nice day even when they ignore her. I go into the supermarket every day and buy at least £20 worth of food and drink but only give her a quid. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Stopping smoking is another grey area. Is that morally a good thing or just selfishly a good thing? Can something selfish be good? I’ve stopped because I don’t want to kill myself. Nothing particularly heroic there!
And taking in that stray cat my daughter brought home which drove my dear wife crazy and gave our younger daughter fleas and an allergy – a generous enough impulse but wasn’t it a bit thoughtless, a bit self-indulgent? And wasn’t the good deed more my daughter’s than mine?
And becoming a vegetarian? Did that stop me from buying shoes for which some poor cow had provided the uppers? Or wearing my ski hat made from the fleece of an unborn lamb?
I once stepped between a young woman and a man who was hitting her. He was smaller than me. My wife sort of pushed me into doing something about it. All the same I did the right thing. Stopped him by grabbing his arms, enclosing him in a tight embrace. She wasn’t grateful though. Told me to mind my own f*****g business. And when it was all over and they had gone off, arm in arm, and I was dusting myself down, I discovered my wallet had gone with them.
But I did save a boy from drowning. That was definitely a good thing. He had jumped in after his dog, not knowing it would dog-paddle its way safely to the river bank. His sister was running along the bank, screaming her head off, but couldn’t swim so I did what most adults would have done and dived in, grabbed him, swam him ashore. But then I am an excellent swimmer. With certificates to prove it. The boy probably showed more courage in jumping in after his dog than I did in jumping in after him.
Tomorrow I might get round to listing the bad things.