No Good Dad Goes Unpunished

Do Right Thing Expedient Morally Bankrupt

When I begin counting my blessings I quickly run out of fingers and toes. Of course, there are the obvious ones – Manic Depression and Alcoholism – both of which have given me more than I could ever repay. But those afflictions are commonplace.

I also have a rare blessing, an unsolicited gift bestowed upon me by a higher authority. It is: I know exactly why I exist and what I am on earth to do. The point of me, the purpose, is clear. I am here to turn my bizarre life experience into balm for fellow travelers. However, I know that one is not afforded the luxury of choosing who one helps, and offering assistance to the ill is somewhat more difficult than one might imagine.

Every now and again it is imperative that I return to the concept that – Doing the right thing is its own reward. Once more I defer to the wisdom of Taz Mopula who said, “If you do the right thing because it is also yields the sweetest practical resolution, you’re already morally bankrupt.” In the damp basements my fellow dipsomaniacs often agonize over how to determine “the next right thing” – I find this disingenuous and somewhat amusing since the next right thing is usually easy to identify – it is almost always the choice that is harder, less appealing, and nets you little, if any, visible reward.

If you do the right thing in hopes of increasing the value of your stock in the eyes of others, you’re doomed. If you do the right thing with the expectation of reward, you’re doomed. I am so lucky that I started down this road involuntarily; otherwise I would never have chosen it. I began writing INVISIBLE DRIVING to save my own life, only later did it even dawn on me that it could benefit others. By then it was too late, I had my work order in hand – I knew what I had to do.

Of course, I had no idea at the time how much punishment I would receive for doing the right thing, but when you’ve spent season after season trudging the landscapes of Hieronymus Bosch, the concept of punishment really loses its meaning.

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Alistair McHarg

Alistair McHarg was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, moved immediately to Edinburgh, and three years later moved to Amsterdam. At 6 he settled in Philadelphia and for 16 years was confused by Quaker education; Germanton Friends School and Haverford College. A Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Louisville nudged him even closer to unemployability. Convinced at an early age that fate had chosen writing as his calling, Alistair followed a characteristically slow and circuitous path. He has found work as deck hand on a Norwegian tramp freighter touring South America, Bureau of Land Management Emergency Fire Fighter in Alaska, guide at a Canadian wilderness survival camp, truck driver crisscrossing Colorado's continental divide, and inner city cabbie. Alistair has been arranging words on paper for a living since 1983.