Why is it then, that the other big literary theme -- good vs. evil -- doesn't seem to me to go the same way?
Kathy and I have a very similar value structure. We both value integrity, and standing up for the little guy, and things of that nature. I won't even call in sick to work unless I am really, actually sick. In spite of some less-than-stellar moments in my past (we all have those), I actually think I do a pretty good job of living life in line with my values. I know from personal and professional experience (we used to work together, isn't that juicy?) that Kathy does too. And yet, it doesn't seem to have helped either of us much in life.
We all have these stories. There is a guy at work who is totally slimy. I don't care where you work, you know you have this guy (or gal) in your workplace. Usually they are a little (or a lot) above you on the corporate ladder. You know you are smarter than they are, and work a lot harder. Yet, they seem to always get praise for your hand in things when you work on projects together. You can't really do anything about it, without seeming like a whiner. And then, when something goes wrong, you somehow find yourself taking the fall, even though it wasn't your decision and you were against it in the first place.
Or maybe it's the guy who is so high-handed about everything, and likes to "teach people a lesson" by making them to a bunch of useless work. Or the person who steals your business, then tries to get you fired for not having any business. Or the person who screams, literally SCREAMS, at you for having a typo in the re: line on an internal memo. Or whatever. You know what I am talking about. And these are just the work examples. These people exist in your personal life, too.
The point is that there are lots of good people who do bad things. I am not talking about those people (because those people are mostly everyone). I am talking about BAD people. Who may, occasionally, do a good thing or two. But deep down, at their core, they are basically evil.
Eventually, you decide it's no longer healthy to have fantasies of this person getting hit by a bus or something so that they are no longer in your life. So you decide to put these fantasies aside, and console yourself with the thought that "someday, SOMEDAY, they will get theirs -- what goes around, comes around," and all manner of other cliched expressions.
This is the thing I am discovering in my jaded old age. THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY TRUE. I have seen the evil business-stealer retire after a long and celebrated career, and go home to spend more time with his wife and children. I have seen the slimy credit-hog get promoted. Nothing bad ever seems to happen to these people. In fact, sometimes it seems like they have most of the world fooled. Even after years.
So I ask you this. Am I paranoid? Did I drown kittens in a past life? Am I better at seeing through people's evil than the average person? Do most people just not CARE when other people are evil? I can't think of a way to explain how these people continue to prosper, while other, genuinely good people, seem to struggle to keep afloat.
And please don't tell me the rewards will come in heaven. That doesn't help me, because I don't believe in that.