Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Can we be good without my friend Marvin?

I've had a good friend ever since I was a child. A best friend, really. We grew up together, and I feel like we've never really been apart. His name is Marvin, and I don't know what I would do without him.

There are a few things you need to understand about Marvin, though. First, he thinks it's funny or clever to show up at random times when I'm not expecting it. He even tracked down the B&B where my wife and I spent our wedding night, and started banging on our door, yelling about purity during what happened to be a particularly personal moment. That was annoying at the time, but I guess it was kind of funny. Maybe you had to be there. Good old Marvin.

Second, he's a pretty big guy, not the kind of person you want to mess with. He always has some kind of weapon, usually a baseball bat, and he enjoys using it whenever I do anything wrong. One time, we went golfing together, and he left his driver at home in favor of the baseball bat. I hit a particularly bad drive into the rough, and found my ball stuck behind a tree. Thinking that Marvin wouldn't see or wouldn't care, I casually rolled my ball about two feet to the left, so I could have a clearer shot to the green. All of a sudden, thwack! Marvin clocked me in the back of the head with his baseball bat. "Thou shalt not cheat," he said with a smile. I had to admit he was right.

Third, he loves to give hugs all the time. But only when I'm doing something right. Last year after I finished my taxes, he scared the hell out of me by bursting into my home office and giving me a giant bear hug. I asked him what that was for, and he said he was proud of me for not cheating on my taxes. The thought of cheating had never occurred to me, but I appreciated the hug. I like how Marvin is always thinking of me, and helping me do the right thing even when he's not there. I never know when he might show up and give me a hug, and that just makes me feel good inside.

As you can see, my friend Marvin is a little quirky, but I know he means well. And to be honest, I think he makes me a better person. Sometimes when I'm putting the kids to bed and they're screaming and belligerent, I think I ought to punch them in the face. But then I remember the last time I did that. Marvin jumped out of my daughter's closet and whacked me in the kneecap with his baseball bat. I couldn't walk for a week. And just the other day, I saw an old lady fall down on the sidewalk in front of me. I was going to walk right past her, but then I realized that if I helped her, Marvin would probably show up and give me a hug. And he did. He was so proud of me.

I wonder sometimes, is it really possible to be a good person without my friend Marvin? I have some friends who think so, and they claim they've never even heard of Marvin. I don't entirely believe them. I figure they must be embarrassed to admit how many times Marvin has smacked them with his baseball bat. Or maybe they have friends of their own - not Marvin himself, but someone just like him. Maybe a friend with boxing gloves instead of a baseball bat. Without my friend Marvin or someone just like him, what would stop them from punching their kids in the face? Why would they help old ladies cross the street? Without my friend Marvin, would life be worth living at all? I don't see how.


Lone Locust of the Apocalypse said...

Hey, I didn't realize you know Marvin too! I talk to him on the phone all the time. I've tried to get my friends to talk to him but they claim they can't hear anything.

dbd said...

Damn that's good!!!

My friend Joe told me that if I was extra good and did everything that Joe told me to do including giving Joe 10% of my income (and learning the names of some weird handshakes) that someday I could be just like Marvin and live in his presence, every single second telling Marvin that he is great. Sounds good doesn't it?

Marvin said...

This is MArvin speaking. I liked your article. Thanks for speaking so nicely about me. Marvin Beshirs in Philippines

ElGuapo said...

Marvin was beginning to get on my nerves there. Who the hell does he think he is? ;)

As I see it, either you have your own sense of morality and Marvin's just baggage, or there is no morality outside of Marvin's own head, in which case he's just using you.

Saganist said...

ElGuapo, I like the way you think.

Anonymous said...

Religion is helpful in living a moral life insofar as it offers a framework for exploring morality and gaining a better insight to it. It can suggest certain values that are important and even discuss why they are important, much like philosophy. But "having religion" will not make a person moral. They have to bring the inclination to be moral to the religion with them.

Of course, other philosophical systems can offer the same kind of benefits. So while it can helpful for living a moral life, religion still isn't necessary for it.

Saganist said...

Thanks, seithman! I totally agree.