094: Shape Up

Verb: to shape up (third-person singular simple present shapes up, present participle shaping up, simple past and past participle shaped up) | (intransitive, idiomatic) To improve; to correct one’s bad habits or behavior. | He’d better shape up soon, or he’ll fail the class. | (intransitive, idiomatic) To take shape; to transform into or become. | The fog has vanished and it’s shaping up to be a beautiful day. | 1983, The Right Stuff, 02:04:00 — “Pretty good. A full refrigerator! I can see this afternoon is shaping up just great.”

One of the only wars that has ever been worth waging is the war to love and to do good unto others. A general example takes the form of Christianity, for it is a war to keep belief alive and to propagate undying faith.

Long ago, during my borrowing spree of Astro Boy from the local public library, I came across a powerful image in the work of Osamu Tezuka. I didn’t take any pains to remember it in particular; it just stuck naturally with me. Such was its potency. It has stayed with me ever since, and I have been summoning it to mind more frequently in recent times.

Today, though, I think I finally understand why that beautiful visual persisted in my mind.

This sudden lucidity was brought about by the tragic events at the Boston Marathon on 15 April 2013. I think it is not unfair for me to share some thoughts about this sudden insight.

For the life of me I cannot recall the encapsulating story. I think it was a visual conjured up with a letter to the large-nosed Professor. We see the earth suspended in space, its larger-than-life inhabitants divided into two sharp factions. The dark, evil imps stab and slice at the earth, trying desperately to ruin it. The light custodians of good, armed only with mops and brooms, do their best to scrub away the damage done.

My words are poorly chosen and don’t do the illustration justice. The point is, however, quite clear – Humanity is forever caught in a cycle of evil and good. We’re not always sure who outnumbers who, and we can’t always keep our heads full of  hope. In fact, I’m not sure everybody knows which side they’re on.

There was, however, a specific sort of order to the image. Instead of a cycle of good against evil, it was the other way around: evil and then good. It isn’t so much that every good thing is knocked over and trampled viciously; instead, the forces of evil are continuously repelled by the good. The reaction, and not the initial action, may be evil; but the side of the angels has the last say.

Doing good doesn’t guarantee a generous payout. In fact, you often end up with the short segment of the stick. I myself don’t believe in karma (and I’m not alone on that), but doing good is really just part of being human. This is a concept I grapple with daily – but for the moment, it’s reasonable to conclude that there’s no good reason to cave in to wanton beastliness. We may not be inherently good, but many of us can be good, and beautifully so.

We have yet to see reason to lose faith in humanity.

On a side note, I would like to praise the BBC for a noticeable effort to adhere to proper standards of journalism. Where they weren’t sure, they clearly indicated so by concluding “the details remain sketchy.” Of course, the BBC isn’t privately owned as are the New York Post and CNN. Shame on them for their injudicious reporting this last week.

A side note: r/atheism should start taking notes, too – cherry-picked witch hunts are counterproductive. Just because ONE priest molested a child doesn’t mean ALL priests molest children. On the flip-side, watch out for “No True Scotsman.” Just because ONE Muslim flouted the Quran (which in no uncertain terms forbids murder) doesn’t mean that ALL Muslims are out to destroy the USA.

Sometimes passiveness is the best approach – it is all very well to draw upon your personal experiences to make a decision, but just because your grandfather’s friend was backstabbed by some “traitor-ass slit-eyed chink” (yes, I take offense to the language) doesn’t mean we’re all duplicitous. When you have insufficient data, you must not construe your theories to fit your facts. Only when you have collected enough information can you dare to deduct, eliminate the impossible and shell out the truth. Remember Doyle (Holmes), remember Sagan.



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