Be good February 14, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
OK, the link’s vague, but I can pretend what’s brought my attention to this idea is my constant pondering of matters affecting children in war and while that is something, of course, that disturbs my feeble mind when I think about it, I must say it was actually stumbling across the idea here that got me interested. So, a project, like the Shaggy Blog Stories book before it, making a book out of blog entries and making money for charity at the same time. Pimp the project and your own blog all in one go.
But philanthropy has been on my mind of late. Maybe it’s a late-30’s thang. Or hating my job. Or thinking it’s a silly contribution to make to the world, translating nonsense, when I could easily be doing something much more useful, like being a painter and decorator, or a school-teacher or a stevedore (although this last one’s only for convenience’s sake because my name is, by a queer twist of fate, actually Steve Dore). My translations are only good in the sense of getting one man to dig a hole and another to fill it in. It keeps a few of us queer types busy and the wolf from our door.
Yet I’d struggle with usefulness. Intellectually, I can agree with it, but then I think a desire to be useful need naturally spring from a love of the society you’re being useful to and, by extension, a love of your fellow man. And while I’ve loved a few of my fellow men in my time, I still think we’re mostly a shower of cunts. But there are all sorts of little devices for getting round that nagging little fact. Firstly, we mostly know we’re a shower of cunts with ghastly natures but we pragmatically reason that, seeing as a life nicely lived is more pleasant than one where we live according to our natures, we suppress our cunticity and counter one logic with another and attempt, at some level – a cultural one, I suppose – to be ‘nice’ to each other. Or at least not actively nasty. Good is cultural. (Darlings, I’ve got a feeling this is what Dawkins’s memetic theory is all about. I didn’t know meme was his coinage. But, anyway, a meme, being a cultural unit, so he says, I think, presuming I haven’t got the wrong end of the stick, which I might easily have, of course, is subject to a cultural version of evolution. Good or useful cultural memes survive. I think it’s how he explains away religion, in fact.)
Which I’m all for, actually. If we’re going to pretend we’re someone we’re not, and then actually, by dint of pretending for so long, actually become someone we’re not and be social (beyond our direct little social unit, I mean) animals, then I’m a great believer in making the whole charade as delicious as possible – not believing in god may add some urgency here, not that I’ve been majorly adept at getting my skates on, be it said. And not to say that the godly don’t do good either, of course – and doing good and being kind to your neighbour and helping the less fortunate and saving the world and eradicating poverty and violence and… and… and everything. And translation – at least not the types I do – just doesn’t contribute too much to anything.
Still, I don’t want to get too good lest you all be blinded by the glint off my halo. And then we have to retain a modicum of honesty, do we not, as we go about our daily lives. So I’ve thought hard about how I can contribute. Encourage charity, yes. But how can I push myself? How can I make it be the essence of all I do to improve the lot of my fellow men, all the while harbouring a cosy grudge against them? How can I be a misanthropic philanthropist?
Bingo! No, not actual bingo. Bingo, as in eureka. And, oddly, translation DOES come into it. Oddly, I need to make a fortune to do my good. I don’t know the first thing about anything other than translating, so I’ll have to carry on translating my bollocks off and earn a fortune. Then, to quench my disdain for my fellow man while also taking the reprehensible edge off the evil of my act, I’m going to buy cars for all the people I hate so that I can go and let down their tyres. Don’t you get all uppity with me. I’m going to try to target my hate at a remote community that needs means of transport. I know slashing their tyres will put a temporary downer on the good I’ve done but it’ll create a need for tyre-repair people, thereby creating jobs and wealth, and I’ll spend money on stamps in local, community-based, post-office co-operatives to send postcards home on my tyre-slashing trips.
No time to waste. But before you all have your philanthropic eureka moments, go and help War Child and pimp your blog in the meantime.