The Good Does Not Excuse the Bad

A person’s good deeds do not excuse their immoral behavior, or their failures.

Far, far too often I see people acting as if they have not done wrong, or that their wrongs should be forgotten, simply because of the good things they’ve done. I personally call this “moral purchasing.” Well, real life does not work that way. Every action you take in life carries its own weight.

Does a judge let you get away with murder simply because there are millions of people out there in the world that you didn’t kill? If you rob a bank, should you get away with it because there are thousands of other banks that you didn’t rob? Maybe we should let people speed on the road, because there are probably a lot of times they didn’t speed. Maybe we should avoid shaming shitty mothers who destroy their own families, because there are tons of families out there they didn’t destroy… Oh wait, we already do that.

About 3 weeks before my ex-wife and I got married, we went over to her cousin Sally’s house. As soon as my then-fiancé told Sally that she did not intend for her stepfather to walk her down the aisle, Sally completely lost her shit. Sally is inexplicably attached to my ex-wife’s stepfather, and that’s why she was deeply offended that she didn’t want him giving her away at our wedding. Sally tried to guilt my fiancé by pointing out all the good things the stepfather had done, including but not limited to giving her a scrap car that hardly functioned.

No. Doing the occasional “nice thing” does not excuse abusing my ex-wife for her entire childhood, which included throwing objects at her, yelling at her, and blatantly treating her like she was the least-important child he raised, simply because she didn’t swim out of his ball sack.

I’d bet a lot of money that the people who blindly side with my ex-wife when it comes to … well, everything … use the exact logic I’m speaking against here to defend her actions as a mother. They probably say/think something alone the lines of, “Yeah, she split up her own family, and she tried to rob her daughter of her father, but hey, at least she’s nice and smiley when you talk to her! She helps around the farm, so she can’t be thaaaat bad….”

Giving to charity does not excuse robbing a bank. Conceiving children does not excuse murder. Driving the speed limit whenever you’re in a school zone does not excuse the times you risk lives by racing your friends on the freeway. Giving your stepchild a car does not excuse all the times you threw objects at her simply because she annoyed you.

No, idiots. Evil is still evil. Endangerment is still endangerment. Failure is still failure. Poor choices still have effects on the real world regardless what “good” things a person has done at other points in time. The good and the bad stand by themselves. The bank was still robbed, the innocent man is still dead, you still risked lives racing on the freeway, and your stepchild still remembers all the times you treated her like garbage.

Thinking this way, whether conscious or not, is a good measure of a person’s soul (if they even have one or not). If you think your immoral behavior, your reckless behavior, and/or your failures when it comes to important matters….. If you think these things can be swept under the rug in the first place… If you don’t carry the weight of your poor choices in your soul, even if you were forgiven, even if you got away with it … then you don’t have a soul to begin with.

Good people struggle living with themselves when they know they messed up. The best people carry doubt all the time, and wonder if there were things did wrong that they don’t even know about. For example, just yesterday, I was thinking about how I failed during my marriage to be more verbally supportive of my wife. I almost never complimented her, I almost never simply reminded her that I’m here for her if she needs me. Now, I know the reasons I did those things – I personally don’t like being complimented, and I consciously assumed my wife knew I loved her and didn’t need reminding – but despite knowing exactly why I did or didn’t do these things, I still looked back at that and felt regret. Also, this was about a woman I despise now. A woman who doesn’t have a soul.

And I still felt bad. I still carry that weight.