‘You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got to heaven and discovered there was nothing wrong with being an evil person.’
My head whipped up, and I looked them dead in the eye. ‘Maybe, but the chances of that happening is slim…to none.’
Their smile is forlorn. ‘You’d be surprised.’ They sigh heavily and rub their hair. ‘I do everything I am meant to do. I don’t steal or cheat people even though business would be wayyyy better if I did that.’ They sigh. ‘I practice sexual purity and treat people decently, but nothing in my life is going according to plan.’ Their disappointment sits between us like a plate of cold food, and they push the morsels around with their eyes.
‘Look at X. Their life is the complete opposite of mine, but everything works out for them.’ I smile because I know X. X has one of those lives that was touched by the divine. Most things — and I use most because no one’s life is always perfect — fall into place for them.
They tick them off on their fingers. ‘They have a stable job, their partner is a knockout and is faithful to boot, and every investment they attempt flourishes even though they don’t live a good life.’
I nodded. ‘So what would you term a good life?’
They shrugged. ‘Being a good person. Always thinking of others before or as you think of yourself. Keeping the commandments. That sort of thing.’
I smiled. I knew this mindset. It was a sort of moral economics where good deeds accrued brownie points that could be traded in for answered prayers and the finer things in life. In this (imaginary) moral economy, the good are at the top of the food chain, while the bad can barely afford anything. I understood where my friend was coming from because I, too, had been there a long time ago.
In the court of childhood disagreement, justice was both my parents, consistently trying to balance the scales. Whenever my brothers and I had disagreements — and dare I say, fights — we tumbled into their room, voices rising over each other like steam, certain that Daddy and Mummy would dissolve the other person’s morally grey…