I try to be a good person. It’s not always easy: I’m a little bit evil. Not evil-evil. Not “enslave a race and destroy an old-growth forest” or “bring back bell-bottoms” evil. I’m more “scathing social media comment” evil. I’m Twitter-mean-evil. Still, the zingers burn my soul. They bring existential angst. Can I call myself a good person if I mock an obvious racist’s grammar deficiencies? Are we sure two wrongs don’t make a right?
For a while, I thought being a good person included softening my language and removing the saltiness. For a while, I thought being a good person meant I had to be “nice.” [i] I’m over it.
I’m going with kind instead of doormat. “Nice” had a habit of turning toward the latter.
Of course, not everyone is trying to be good people. Most are, but not all. That’s a truth that surprised me when I finally came to accept it. Some people are nasty, small, racist, bigoted, close-minded, vile, and corrupt on purpose. It’s funny when those kinds of people run into problems like earned consequences. They always end up begging for the grace and tolerance they denied others.
Sometimes, I don’t want to be the bigger person.
Unfortunately, setting the social media mob loose on people is also a bad idea. We destroy and eviscerate with rapid-fire glee, but our fact-check skills are weak. We mostly fact-check after people are bleeding. Should we happen to make a mistake, we apologize for the rubble. Nothing says mea culpa like an apology pinned to an Instagram profile for likes.
It reeks of sincerity.
What’s needed is a less fallible arbitrator than the rank and file. People make terrible judges.
God is off the table, too, in all the incarnations. God is too vague. And God’s vengeance is too often about the long game. Consistent instant consequences, please and thanks.
I’d suggest Judge Dredd for sheer badassery, but he’s human and thus, ultimately fallible. And attempts at Robocops never end well. [ii]
Enter the karmic anvil—instant consequences of the permanent variety.
The karmic anvil would immediately eliminate the problem of repeat offenders. There’d be no slow learning. With anvil judgement, the first offence is the last one.
It works like this: you commit a crime that crosses the established societal threshold. [iii] The karmic anvil drops on your head.
I suppose it could be configured for punishable thoughts, but then you have the “probability of execution versus ‘I was just shit-thinking’” conundrum. It’s probably best to keep it as an “after the fact” anvil. I feel sad about the people not saved in the early days of the program, but I expect the karmic anvils’ deterrent effect will take effect very quickly. Crime rates and overall rudeness will plummet. Yes, you can get anvilled for being a jerk. If karmic anvils are going to make the world a better place, then jerk-removal needs to qualify.
The anvils will do for the planet what Batman couldn’t do for Gotham.
I do have a few concerns about anviltopia.
One, if science fiction has taught us anything, it’s that “benign” entities like karmic anvil dispensers always go rogue. First, you’re living in Eden, but before you know it, Big Brother is watching you in the shower, and anvils are dropping on people who take seconds at dessert. I don’t want to have to deal with a rogue, anvil-dropping entity. [iv] My umbrella isn’t rated for iron.
There’s also the problem of after. Dropping anvils will make a mess. Who will clean up the spatter? We can’t just ignore the problem: leaving squashed people lying about is unhygienic. And, what about all the anvils lying about everywhere? Even hosed off, they’re going to be an awkward problem. They’re heavy, and they’re hard to move, and they have no legs: they can’t just walk away.
Maybe the karmic anvils can come with karmic bulldozers?
If someone believes in something evil, does that make them evil?
Are they only evil?
Can you be partly evil?
Can you follow evil and not be evil?
[i] Nice is passive. Kind is better. Then you can also be curmudgeonly. As a side note, “nice” is easily connected to sexism. Few guys worry about being nice. “Nice” is often a position of appeasement. Quite honestly, the more I think about “nice,” the less I want anything to do with it.
[ii] Dredd (film, 2012). Robocop (film, 1987: 2014).
[iii] You need a threshold: I don’t think anvils on heads is a necessary response for something like shoplifting gum. As for who writes, the rules, in order to avoid opening a can of worms, we’ll go with me. I’ll draft the anvil commandments. I hope I get medical benefits.
[iv] Although, that would make a kick-ass movie. A more metal version of “Eagle Eye.” (film, 2008)