My flatmate Gemmagen doesn’t have the greatest dining etiquette. I say that not to be unduly insulting, merely to prepare you for the next sentence I will write, one that might, without this warning, cause shock and revulsion from the more sophisticated readers of this column. In the course of eating some hummus on rye, Gemmagen had put her table knife into her mouth.
Apologies for the shocking nature of that statement but it is pertinent for the accurate telling of this story.
My other co-tenant Jamie Scott then proceeded to pick up this table knife and use it to scoop out some jam from a jar.
A debate ensued. Scott was assuring Gemmagen that her aversion to the newly cosmopolitan nature of her jam jar was irrational. Gemmagen was furious that Scott had mixed in saliva and hummus into her jar of jam (Scott’s laxity in buying groceries and his propensity to eat them all is a matter for another column another time).
Scott’s response to having done something that had caused someone else distress was to explain why what he had done did not matter to him; why he didn’t mind if Gemmagen’s jar of jam turned into a cesspit of poor hygiene.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as an evil person in this world, but there are millions of evil acts every day all over the world. There are also millions of justifications for these acts. An army of people ready to explain, using logic and rationality, why what they are doing is not harmful.
Like my dear friend Jamie Scott, these people need to ‘de-ego-centralise’ their morality. Only when we think of others can we make our little corner of the universe a happier place to be.