Moral Melbourne: Demerit Pointers
My longest and best friend in the whole wide world called me up the other day. This was the conversation:
Me: "Hey loser face."
Me: "Nothing, what's going on with you?"
Mate: "I've got a favour to ask."
Mate: "You can say no."
Me: "That tells me I probably will."
Mate: "Well you can make some sweet cash out of it."
Me: "What is it?"
Mate: "I just got caught for speeding and lost three demerit points. I only had one left so now I'm pretty screwed."
Mate: "So yeah, if you take my points I'll give you like three hundred bucks."
Me: "Have you even read my Moral Melbourne columns?"
What followed was essentially me explaining why I didn't want to be paid to lie and, what's more, advocate his bad driving habits. The argument he persisted with was 'but we're mates!'
I wonder if being a good person can ever put you at odds with being a good friend. The way I assessed the above situation was that the best call for everyone was not to bail him out. Losing his licence wouldn't cause him dire circumstances and he may learn something.
His rubbish driving doesn't conjure up any empathy either. I'd pay for him to go to defensive driving courses if I didn't know he'd already taken two. If he had been in desperate need to keep his licence, let's say, to get to his job so he could feed his children (neither of which he has) then perhaps I might have helped. Okay I'm defending myself now.
My relentless need to be rational usually pushes me away from making emotional decisions (I think Spock is my late great uncle or something). Despite this I still have a tiny niggling voice in my head that's saying I wasn't a good mate. This lingering guilt can be confusing. Given that we as humans have an innate instinct to look after the people close to us, I'd say this might sometimes get in the way of making a decision that benefits the greater good. However, if one loses friends due to a 'greater good' decision, then it would be a lonely nobel life.
I'd like a pamphlet on friendship etiquette. It sure would come in handy when one is faced with those challenging moral dilemmas. One of the most common of which people write into me about is whether it's okay to date your best friend's ex. Eeeep. Tricky. I might try tackle that conundrum another week. Until then, I'm going to go find an awesome birthday present for my mate to show how much I care. Not that he deserves it.