I know M who is prone to traffic accidents. Not big ones, usually small incidents like scratching somebody’s bumper or rear ending the car before him at a red light. Mostly his own fault. He takes it in a strange fatalistic way as if it is something that befalls on him, rather than something caused by his own bad driving. “I was happy this morning, but suddenly this happens.” He said to me innocently as if he’s complaining the unfairness of the fate. It took all my respect for social etiquette to restrain my impulse for laughter. How could he say that? Couldn’t he see there’s a reason why ‘this happens’ to him more often than ‘this happens’ to others? For people like M, a driverless car is the ultimate salvation. And I pray this computer controlled, environmentally friendly gadget will be put to use soon. Hopefully it is not too difficult to operate. If it is voice activated, please be more understanding towards non-native English speakers.
I know N who is prone to computer virus. Every six months or so, he would call me and say, “Suddenly my computer is slowed to a crawl and weird message windows come out. How come? I can’t believe it.” I don’t know how his belief system works. It happens again and again and he still cannot believe it. If I ask him if he has gone to webpages with famous actresses (which are usually loaded with virus), he would deny it. “I know how dangerous those pictures. Why would I deliberately incur a virus on myself?” He said to me so convincingly that I felt guilty that I had even suggested such a possibility.
Everybody knows Brother D who’s a journalist, but his reputation is based less on the article he writes in the local newspaper, more on his karaoke singing voice, his party spirit, and his fundraising skills in the Southeast Asian community in New York area. His activities are booked to the maximum and he can spend a month not coming home. Instead he hops from one party to another, often sleeping on somebody’s couch. He’s the best fundraiser for political campaigns. I know his wife who always worries about his health, but he is oblivion to the danger of his life style. One day, he died of heart attack while traveling in Southeast Asia, helping his favorite politician get elected. People say he’s in good spirit and drank a bottle of rice wine. Then he went to his hotel room to lie down, claiming fatigue from jet lag. He never got up. During the night, he had a heart attack and died in his bed.
I also know people in the Asian community here who eat junk food and don’t want to stop even if they suffer from high blood pressure, high blood glucose, and high cholesterol. I also know people who toil day and night at a small Asian restaurant and spend all their leisure time in casinos in the surrounding area to exhaust their last remaining bit of strength.
“Change your behavior.” Some expert moralists or indignant doctors would say, but that’s not it. That’s not the correct diagnose of the train-wreck problem of human life. Oscar Wilde says, “Work is the curse of the drinking classes”. Without indulging in drinking–which will slowly drain and deplete you–one just can’t bear to look at their work. Our vice and our virtue go hand in hand–one cannot exist without the other. However let’s fight for our virtue and make our vice manageable. And most important of all, don’t despair and always hope for a better future.