No reservoir of goodwill
September 21, 2015 by Thomas Wictor
I have the flu, so tonight’s post will be short. It’s about how the concept of creating a reservoir of goodwill no longer exists.
When I was a young man, the way things worked was that you met people, interacted with them, and collected all the good experiences you had with them. If one day you had a slight misunderstanding or disagreement, you weighed that against the positive interactions.
That’s not how things are done anymore. Today, people are on hair triggers, ready to take offense and lash out at any moment. The world has become this scene from the film The King of Comedy.
What this shows is a cataclysmic level of dysfunction. Those who behave this way need emergency psychiatric intervention.
It used to bother me, but now I’m indifferent. I can cut people off instantly, with no regrets. Yesterday an Israeli filmmaker released the deeply flawed Operation Four Little Martyrs even though he knew full well that I didn’t want him to. After I wrote a very angry post, the filmmaker contacted me and protested that I was being extremely unfair. I rewrote the post because I’m trying to avoid going back to what I was until 2011, a creature of pure rage.
The way people handle accusations tells you a lot. A few years ago there was a pounding on my door at 10:00 p.m. When I asked who was there, a male voice said, “Me.”
I turned on the porch light and looked through the peephole. It was neighbor, who works for the state transportation department. He’s in his late twenties.
When I opened the door, he said, “Did you try to poison my dog?”
His dog barked all day and night. It’s dead now, but it was very much alive at the time. My neighbor is a giant. He filled the doorway, each of his arms bigger around than my legs. I realized that if he charged me, I’d need one of these to stop him.
“What are you talking about, Thomas?” I asked him.
“Someone threw about a hundred pieces of chocolate over the fence. The yard was covered with it. Was it you?” He stood there with his fists clenched, his shaved head down so I could see white under the irises of his eyes.
This is how people die, you know. Just like that, you can be dead.
“No it wasn’t Tim or me,” I said. “We don’t hurt animals, and besides, if someone did poison your dog, who’d be the first people you’d suspect?”
While he thought about that, I said, “Look: When was the last time we complained to you about your dog? It’s been over a year. We finally just accepted it. We know you and you father are armed. The last thing we want to do is cause trouble. After all the bad blood between your family and mine, we’d be crazy to do something like that. Besides, your dog doesn’t deserve to killed just for barking. We’re not psychos. The barking is annoying, but we got used to it. We decided it was more important to try and just get along than to keep fighting about it.”
He was starting to calm down.
“It wasn’t us, Thomas,” I said. “Really. We wouldn’t do that to your dog, but also we wouldn’t risk going to jail or starting a war with your family. We’re not going anywhere, and you aren’t either, so we just got used to it.”
“Okay,” he said. “I believe you.”
The dog in question later died, and the neighbors got two more dogs. One is a golden retriever that barks all day and night, but it sounds muffled, like they’ve crammed its mouth with paper towels. Maybe it wears a mask.
The point is, when someone accuses you of something you didn’t do, you try to talk them out of it.
Last night I got two messages from the Israeli filmmaker saying that his conscience is clear; it doesn’t matter what I think of him because he knows who he really is; and that someday when I’m ready to admit that I was wrong and apologize, he’ll be there for me.
With an armful of roses!
A global meltdown. As my brother Tim says, the world is flipping like a big ol’ pancake. That’s fine, but I’m not part of it. When people are nice and respectful, I remember it. I give them the benefit of the doubt. As more and more of us succumb to piggery, it becomes vital to maintain standards of behavior. That’s why I rewrote last night’s post.
Tomorrow I’ll write about how Israel has given Russia its marching orders in regard to Syria. It’s very exciting. Cataclysmic change is in the air, which is making people act crazy.
I don’t see why. Seriously: Do you like the way things are now?
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