When we were children, we were taught that we could not expect much justice or reward in this life if we counted ourselves among the good people who followed the rules and behaved well, rather that we would find praise and reward for being good in the next world, after we were dead. This was provided you believed in an afterlife, which was a given on the part of the religious instructors we had as children in Catholic grammar school. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve wondered about a lot of things, and this is one of them. I’ve never really liked the philosophy that good people have to suffer at the hands of bad people, or that they have to accept that suffering without standing up for themselves or fighting back. And I loathe the idea that bad people get to do what they want at the expense of good people, without ever having to account for their behavior or without getting caught or stopped. What do I mean by bad people? Psychopaths, sociopaths, true narcissists, the holier-than-thous, those who believe the rules don’t apply to them because they are too smart, too good-looking, or too rich. Those who mess with others’ heads to achieve their own egotistical aims, those who miss no opportunity to badmouth those around them, those who aggressively cross others’ personal boundaries over which they have no business going, those who actively seek to destroy their co-workers in the quest to get to the top. How do you do the latter? By doing the first three things. Why do I bring this up today? Because I have been witness to a few comeuppances recently, and I must say that I am glad I didn’t have to wait until I was dead to experience them. And because I have experienced a small amount of joy in watching these people get their just deserts, my conscience has bothered me. But these people have reaped trouble--lost top leadership positions, experienced being badmouthed and attacked themselves, got told to back off or get out of people’s lives--because they sowed trouble. They deserved what they got, and the reason I felt glad about any of it was because it happened in this life and not the next. The people around them are now spared their nasty slimy behavior.
I believe that good people should stand up for themselves and should fight back, insofar as that is humanly possible. I’m not sure what Christ really meant by turning the other cheek, but I don’t think he meant that good people should let themselves be attacked and/or killed, or that they shouldn’t try to dissuade bad people from behaving badly. I think he meant that they should set an example—good behavior—not that they should let the nasty people ride roughshod over them. Good people have the right to defend themselves if they are physically, verbally or psychologically attacked. I include spiritually as well, because some people cross all sorts of boundaries in their dealings with you, and expect you to simply accept their transgressions because that is who they are. But if good people are exposed to enough bad, unethical, nasty, slimy, evil behavior, they risk being contaminated themselves, if they never fight back. They risk being inundated by so much crap that they slip under the surface of slime. They risk becoming like those who are not worth emulating. Sometimes, they even end up ‘casting their pearls before swine’, a very favorite expression of mine. They throw away their values in order to live among the bad people. It can happen gradually, one pearl at a time, and suddenly, they’ve given their souls away, to be trampled upon. It’s worth thinking about.