I recently finished reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. It’s the story of a dog helping keep his human from doing the wrong thing when everyone and everything is against him. Told from the dogs point of view. I loved it.
I just started reading “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis, which is how Wall Street and large banks did virtually everything they possibly could in order to insure that the poor stay poor, in fact get poorer, and the rich get richer. And that is wrong in a different way.
You see, in one case you have a right wrong, where the dog prevents his human from doing dumb things, and in the other you have humans acting like pigs while they fuck the middle and lower classes. As always, there is a right and there is a wrong.
Rock and roll has always been about doing the things you want to do. Doing what is right…for you. We have all seen “Behind The Music”, but let’s just work with the positives here. One could argue a large part of the true Rock and Roll ethos can be found in Ayn Rand’s philosophical ideal of Objectivism, a “philosophy for living on earth”.
But let’s make sure that we differentiate an action based on what you believe to be right and deliberately doing what you know to be wrong. Sure, throwing TV sets out of hotel windows is pretty funny, totally awesome and wrong. BUT, in doing the act, in this case tossing a TV out a window, you have to believe in the act, own the act and be prepared for the potential consequences. Therefore, is it wrong if you don’t hurt anybody and are willing to compensate for the damage? It would be wrong to throw the TV out the window onto a pedestrian heavy street and not be willing to compensate for any damage. Let alone just plain dumb.
On the other hand, deliberately screwing the country out of over one trillion dollars, raping the middle and lower classes while your pay swells exponentially and practically puncturing a hole in the entire world economy…well, yes that is wrong.
Certainly screwing the population out of money and further castrating the middle and lower classes from achieving financial security and recklessly tossing a TV out a window are wrong, but one could argue which is worse. But there are far more subtle right and wrongs we encounter on a day-to-day basis.
This past weekend the lady friend and I took a trip up to the Catskills to share in the marriage of some friends, Darren Trumeter and Rachel Pearl. The groom is in a sketch comedy group called the Whitest Kids U’ Know and the bride is a shoe designer. It was truly a beautiful ceremony and I felt lucky to have been invited to share their day and the weekend with them.
While I have been an ardent supporter of the WKUK for years because I spent the better part of 40 hours a week slaving away with Timmy Williams in an incredibly mundane job. And through hanging out with the group etc. I got know the others a little, but the lady friend is much closer to them. The lady friend and I met at Timmy’s birthday party a few years ago so we will be forever linked to them. And for that I can not be happier.
Stop. Story time.
The lady friend and I split up for about 14 months. And one of the last fights we had, certainly the largest fight, in our previous life was centered around a wedding. You see, we lived together and one of her childhood family friends did not invite me to her wedding. The lady friend was invited, but there was not “& Keith R. Higgons” or even “& Guest”. An egregious and offensive slap in the face. I LIVED with her. I was not someone she was casually dating.
Now, to know me at all is to know I am a heavily principled person, perhaps to a fault. Not only did I consider huge sign of disrespect towards me but also an even bigger sign of disrespect towards our relationship. If I call someone a friend, it’s probably someone I would give bone marrow or a kidney to (at the very least, bail out of jail). So the idea of not sharing something that important with a friend AND their live in partner is completely out of my scope of understanding.
Oh God how we fought about this like cats and dogs as I made it known how I felt about the sleight. The lady friends’ support of her friend and her decision to “keep costs down” was the main source of our nightly battles. I didn’t, and still can’t, wrap my head around how the additional 150-200 for a childhood friends LIVE IN BOYFRIEND was really going to break these people. I can assure you that it would not have. Eventually, I received a half-hearted, half-assed invitation about two weeks before the wedding. I shit you not, my name was added, handwritten, in different ink…and spelled incorrectly. By then I really did not want to go because I knew I wasn’t wanted there, but since I kicked up so much dirt, I had to go.
Suffice it to say, I went to the wedding and it started with what was, and remains, one of the most ridiculous conversations I have ever been a part of. I was snickered at for not having my tie in a Windsor knot. True story. And that was on my first beer…BEFORE the ceremony even fucking began. And from there, believe it or not, it got worse.
So was it right or wrong? Hindsight shows me there was no right in this situation, only wrong. My behavior was wrong and was prompted by a wrong decision the bride’s family made to exclude me. As a friend pointed out to me, weddings make people do odd and stupid shit. When you are making decisions solely based on “keeping costs down” and knowing you are hurting someone you consider a friend, well yea, that is wrong.
I would have had much more respect if the bride had simply said “Look, I don’t like him and I don’t really want to share my day with him.” I think that would have been far more accurate. And while I would have been pissed, at least that would have been honest. As a result, the lady friend and I had a miserable time, we fought worse then we ever had prior to that and we broke up shortly thereafter. While there were many reasons why we separated, I can place this wedding and the grief we encountered as the defining moment of the end.
Fast-forward 16 months.
The lady friend tracked me down. Well, it really didn’t require too much tracking as I live seven blocks from her, and she actively pursued me. She wanted to kick the tires and see if there was anything left between us. Being that I never really wanted to leave in the first place, I was game. I still had a lot of anger about that wedding went down and how I was treated and knew it was paramount that she understood just how much that wedding fiasco hurt me and exactly how much damage it did to us. She may choose to believe something else, but if she could not see that sleight for what it was, I couldn’t see her. Happily, it worked out.
So, as we were reconciling I saw the “Save the Date” card for Rachel and Darren’s wedding and hoped and prayed I wasn’t invited. Not because I didn’t like them, I just didn’t want a sequel of the last wedding. Besides, I wasn’t tight with them and only knew them peripherally.
One night a few months after I noticed the “Save the Date” card, the lady friend called me up to come down to her apartment cuz she had a surprise for me. I grumbled and groused a little but went. And there in the mail was a wedding invitation to Darren and Rachel’s wedding in her name “& KEITH R. HIGGONS.” So not only was I invited, they got my fucking NAME right. Spelling too!
Now the most they could have known was that we were seeing each other again. That’s it, but they felt it important enough to invite me. They thought enough of her to invite her boyfriend and not even as the “& Guest”. I was not living with her. They are not from a moneyed family, but they recognized the importance of inviting the significant other and that saving a few bucks versus’ doing the right thing of acknowledging a couple as a couple, just wasn’t worth it.
Admittedly, the principles surrounding right and wrong will vary from person to person, but it’s important to recognize that what you are doing is right for you. If you choose to make a decision that you know may hurt someone, make sure you have an honest reason for doing so. Apologize for the hurt if you can. In other words, if you throw the TV out the window, don’t throw it on a heavily trafficked sidewalk and be prepared to pay for it.
If you are deliberately out to screw someone, like the folks on Wall Street, well then…you may in fact, just be a dick.
We’d all be better off if we all tried, simply TRIED to do the right thing.
“The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it.”