Doing Good Things Because We Want to Do Good Things; Help From A Hotel and Alfred Pennyworth (TheByteWeek Issue 3)

I recently finished watching The Dark Knight, for about the 15th time, and, as always, I loved it. Though, interestingly enough, of all the imagery and symbolism the movie throws around, in addition to the various possible inferences and deductions one can make about the movie’s intentions and parables (Bruce Wayne being a Geroge Dubya Bush allegory, for example), the one thing that really stuck with me during this particular viewing was the character of Alfred Pennyworth. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Christopher Nolan’s version of Alfred and I absolutely love that he decided to expand the character and not just make Alfred the genius butler, but that he did also decide to keep his military roots (like in Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One or Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, by an absolutely inane number of writers, artists, and editors). However, the character of Alfred notwithstanding, a certain piece of dialogue that really stuck with me this time around was his fanatically named “Tangerine speech” where Alfred discusses his time spent in Burma, trying to buy the favour of tribal lords with jewels. Here, he explains that a bandit had managed to steal the jewels and, over a period of six months, had also released them into the river merely because he could, “…for sport.” “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money…Some men just want to watch the world burn,” Alfred tells Wayne (or is it Batman at this point? I can’t keep track of who’s wearing the mask anymore, really) all of this to provide insight into the character of The Joker, reasoning that perhaps The Clown Prince of Crime isn’t launching a terror spree on Gotham City because he wants something out of it (not something physical or something that can be quantified anyway), but because he can and simply wants to (for kills and giggles, we’ll say). Frankly though, I don’t see anything wrong with that train of thought.

However, allow me to explain what I mean; I don’t condone conducting a psychological experiment by using boats filled with criminals and non-criminals to see who blows whom up first, and I definitely don’t suggest robbing banks filled with Mafia money. Frankly, I don’t know how an individual would even start doing such a thing. I mean that quite literally, how does a person even get other people interested in robbing and destroying a bank and how do you even find Mob banks to begin with? I can’t imagine there’s a 1-800 number people can dial that links them to the Mafia; do I go through the Yellow Pages to find a “Plumber,”“Mechanic,” or a “Transporter” or should I just go to my local family eatery/ diner and wait for Jason Statham to crash his car and then ask? Though I do digress because what I’m trying to say is that while I don’t condone the “Watch the world burn” way of thinking when it applies to literally setting the world on fire and fiddling in the background, I really don’t see why people shouldn’t do socially, or culturally good things just because they can or because they want to. Take, for example, a dinner I had a few days ago with the managers of the hotel I’m staying in (and will be doing so until I’m back home; everyone should know which country I’m referring to when I say “Home” by now) which is, for the most part anyway, quite odd. Certainly, a single manager, such as the General Manager, might invite a guest to dinner, but to spend an entire evening at a table filled with the people who literally run the hotel (staff notwithstanding) is certainly an invitation odd enough that, when offered, it is very difficult to turn down.

These are the people who run the hotel, they make sure that all the pieces of the puzzle fit together and they insure that everything just works, for the most part anyway; so obviously I wanted to see what they were like when they weren’t working, which is why, when invited, I said yes immediately. I cleansed myself of all kinds of environmental dirt, changed into something casual (yet formal enough) hopped onto a taxi, and went to the restaurant where I met the managers (from Food and beverage all the way to the Security all the way to HR and, hilariously enough, all the way back since it was a round table). Suffice it to say, I had a fantastic time and everyone made it a point to do likewise; I’m not joking when I say that, somehow (not to mention, once again), I was treated as part of a family (that I’m not even a part of) by people who I’ve never met before (I mean, sure I’ve seen them around the hotel, obviously, but I’ve never really stopped and had a conversation with them talking about their work, their family, or anything of the sort. For all intents and purposes, I knew nothing about them). I’d also like to make it a point that while I was, and still am, the guest in their hotel, they didn’t try to treat me as such and they all thoroughly enjoyed themselves anyway. It really was quite a sight; we all ate, joked, laughed and so forth, and the next day everything was essentially back to normal. Mind you, I ended the night with a splendid headache (from the heat; no assumptions here because I still don’t drink), but everyone else seemed relatively fine and that was that.

However, the important part isn’t how much we ate, or even how welcome I was by everyone else, or even the fact that I now know how to curse in Vietnamese; the interesting bit is knowing just why I was invited: why not? No, seriously; when I asked why I was invited, I got a resounding shoulder shrug followed by a “Why not?” That, specifically, is what my point is; Alfred was, in every sense of the word, right when he said that some men just want to watch the world burn. Some people just do things because they can, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to set a mountain of money on fire or chase a billionaire dressed as a giant bat around a city that’s an amalgamation of New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bangkok. Some people, like those who invited me, will just do nice (and amazing) things because they feel like it. They won’t do it for money, or recognition, or even because the kindness is a good business move (seriously, if I could tell you where I’m staying, I would, but I’m still here so I can’t; take my word for it when I say I’ll be coming back as soon as it’s humanly possible); there are some people who do nice things just because they feel like doing nice things. Of course, a person’s mood must be taken into account and how you treat them is also a major factor (though I have come across some individuals who do practice a form of absolute acceptance, regardless of the misgivings of others), but even then, the answer is still a why not? The only difference is that we’re in a good mood, but apart from that factor, why not help someone out? The fact of the matter is that sometimes, people do things because they can, sometimes people do things because they want to (and for no other reason) and sometimes people do things to see if they can.

It really isn’t an astounding revelation, but I find that, for the most part, we often make it a habit to underestimate the motivation of others and, when taking the various actions one can make on a daily basis, this is perfectly sound and reasonable. However, sometimes a pipe really is nothing more than a pipe and, while trying to find the motivation behind the action can be fun and challenging, we should leave it as such. I, for example, am a person who is a firm believer that everything has a reason, though I don’t mean this from a strictly spiritual standpoint. Every action that an individual makes has some motivation, whether positive or negative; this is irrefutable and is, therefore, a fact. However, in the past few years, I’ve come to learn that, while every action has motivation behind it, sometimes the question to the very deep and complex “Why?” amounts to nothing more than a simple and annoying “Why not?” I say this is annoying because, quite frankly, a person like me loves having an answer, though, that being said, it is never too late to learn that sometimes, the answer we think we deserve (a completely comprehensive one) is not the same answer we need (nothing more than a shrug and knowing smile).

As always, this has been your Admin; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

  1. Will this be available on blu ray?

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