Monday, November 24, 2008

Just be good for goodness sake.

Why believe in a god?

As a part of my daily commute in and around the environs of Our Nation’s Capitol, I have the opportunity to stand at a bus stop, waiting patiently with my fellow wage slaves (he also serves who only stands and waits) for the sometimes reliable cross town J1 bus. While serving each morning by standing and waiting, I am entertained by scanning the ads plastered on the sides of the non-J1 busses (there’s always so many of them) as they swish by. There are lots of ads for the new James Bond movie. There are ads for television shows, some apparently featuring many girls with few clothes. There are ads for the local taxpayer-funded left wing NPR propaganda outlet, (which is not, I don’t believe, under any threat from the threatened “Fairness” Doctrine). There are ads asking me to be kind to turkeys this Thanksgiving and go vegan, and there’s an especially pleasant series of ads which feature pairs of healthy young men of various ethnic backgrounds, shown from just above the nipple line up. The young men are naked (at least the parts of them you can see in the ads) and they have some sort of stuff on them that makes their skin and hair slightly shiny. They are in intimate poses – holding hands, for example - and the ads exhort us to show our love and get tested together. Presumably somebody in the District Metro approves these things.

Today, though, I made a positive sighting of what heretofore had been mere rumour – a large ad in very seasonal red and green Christmas colouring, which said, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.”

Why, indeed. I’ll just be good. However, as the J1 had not yet appeared (this by no means unusual) I had forced upon me a moment to reflect. What, exactly, is good? Is letting the little old lady who got on after me have my seat good? Why? After all, I was there first, and first come, first served is fair. Isn’t fair good? What about a phone call from work I had last night – is pouring tens of thousands of dollars into the NICU care of a 30 week premature infant with a massive bleed into her brain good? She’ll probably die anyway, and if she lives she’ll have all kinds of problems. Suppose, instead, her mother had chosen to have her partially delivered, and then chose to have the physician stick a sucker in her baby’s head, and suck out her brains. Is that good? Many English people, most English politicians, and virtually all of the English media and academic elite in the 1930’s thought the former German Army corporal with a flair for speechifying named Adolph Hitler was good. Not a few of the U.S. academic and media elite in the same time period thought Joseph Stalin was good. Was that good? What, exactly, is good?

The ad, of course, answers its own question, although I doubt in the way its sponsors (whoever they are) intend. The question posed is, “Why believe in a god?” The answer, so simple that it would fit on the side of a bus, is this: without God, we have no idea what good is.

No comments: