morality

Moderately Bad Things, Part 1

I think that we all have little ideas we can’t let go of (yes? no?) and the other day, something happened that reminded me of one of mine. First, a little background; I have this recurrent motif that, deep down, I am evil. I was raised in the Bible Belt, by fairly religious (US take on it) and strict/borderline-crazy religious (UK opinion) Christians, so it’s not hard to see where I picked up this notion. When you are confronted, AT LEAST a couple of times a month, with the idea that you deserve to be roasted for eternity–and not for anything you’ve done, as such, but because you are just intrinsically deserving of such punishment–it’s hard to internalize any real belief in your own goodness. On the contrary, you internalize a belief in what I like to call innate wickedness. It crops up all the time, mostly as a joke (or so I tell myself….) but this idea that we’re all wicked really, and I’m probably one of the worst, is something I can’t quite shake and thus have to make fun of, all the while trying to be a good person (as best I can; and, in all honesty, I mostly think I suck at real goodness). Because this idea is always floating around in the back of my head, I can’t help but look for evidence to support my hypothesis, and do you know, I find it everywhere (I do believe we call that confirmation bias…).

The other day, someone posted a picture on Facebook of their hair, after a DIY haircut. The haircut was fine; the hair, on the other hand, was absolutely glorious. It was, quite literally, everything my hair would be, if my hair were the perfect version of itself (similar colour/texture/length, but longer, healthier, with a more even level of curliness, and above all, more abundant). As someone whose hair has been noticeably thinning since her mid-20s (just like the rest of her mother’s female family members) and who has recently come to the decision that she is going to have to cut her waist-length (for most of her life, so far) hair, because it is just too fragile and thin now, the feeling that went through me was less envy, and more actual pain. I would not have taken that woman’s hair for myself, even if such a thing were possible; but I was very nearly crying when I went and looked at my own hair (in a photo taken a day or two earlier).

And then–and this is where the innate wickedness comes in–I decided that, if Evil Genie appeared, I would make a deal with him. (You know about Evil Genie, I know you do; he’s the imaginary guy who’s going to enforce your choices, when you find yourself playing those thought games where you have to answer questions like, “Who would you save, your child or your partner, if you were on the Titanic?”… anyways, I digress. Back to my deal.)

I decided that, if I were completely honest with myself, I would do a Moderately Bad Thing, if it meant that Evil Genie would give me hair like hers. Exactly the same hair (minus the fringe; I wouldn’t have a fringe, if I didn’t have hair that was too thin to grow out properly) so it would be, like, an easy job for Evil Genie, he could just look at her hair and magically copy it onto my head; and then, he could (according to pre-set parameters) ask me to do a Moderately Bad Thing, and I would do it.

And what qualifies as a Moderately Bad Thing, I shall cover later, because I have children and a partner and housework, etc etc, now… but isn’t the fact that I *would* do a bad thing (even if it’s not a terrible thing) for such a frivolous reward proof enough that, deep down, I really *am* innately wicked?

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