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Good will toward...

The Public Eye
By Stewart Dobson | Dec 21, 2017

 

 

printed 12/22/2017

 

(This column is reprinted from the December 2014 holiday edition.)

All I want for Christmas is peace on earth and good will toward …  a number of people.

The way I see it, there is plenty of good will being offered by others this time of year, so I’m inclined to let them take care of the general population, while I distribute my good will where it’s most needed, rather than risk wasting it by flinging it around at random.

To put it in another context, you would not want to send $20 in lottery tickets to Bill Gates along with a note that says, “Here’s hoping everything works out.”

This more prudent approach also takes into consideration the need to maintain a rainy day fund of good will should some be required later in the year.

I’m not a grump, but I do believe in being prepared and don’t see any sense in emptying my bank of cheer just because others are doing it.

Despite the Hallmark sentiment and such, good will isn’t that easy to come by these days, so you wouldn’t want to plop it down for someone who’s not going to good will you in return and replenish your supply.

Say, for instance, you’re about to zip into the one vacant space left in a crowded parking lot, when you’re cut off by some older person, who may or may not be aware of his or her own existence, much less yours. And your good will account, having been frittered away by extending best wishes to just anyone regardless of need, happens to be running a deficit at the moment.

What should you do? Say, “Hey, old person, I have no good will left because I spent it all at Christmas and you are a … (fill in the blank)!”

On the other hand, if you didn’t cash in all your good will at Christmas, you could draw from your rainy day account and yell out the car window, “That was some outstanding driving, sir! I applaud your keen eye and quick hand on the wheel. Savor the moment!”

The reason that’s the better approach is because, were you to be broke good will-wise and shouted something that was, say, irregular, you would be quickly de-good willed by every onlooker present, and left even deeper in good will debt.

I do find it interesting, however, that this business of expressing good will is employed just once a year. Why for, instance, isn’t good will also trotted out on – oh, I don’t know – the second weekend in June?

“Greetings, recent graduate, enjoy your stay in America’s favorite family resort and keep up the noise! We all find it amusing.”

This may or may not be better than saying, “Hey, whipper snappers … etc.,” depending on your perspective.

Besides, instituting a good will savings plan could save you the humiliation of extending to someone good will that you no longer have.

They might attempt to cash in on it later only to be told, “I’m sorry, but payment on this good will has been stopped because of insufficient funds.” That would be awkward.

I do suppose, however, that extending good will to others this time of year does serve a purpose and that I might have to revise my thinking and abide by tradition.

It would be a little dispiriting, after all, to say “peace on earth and good will toward those with whom I agree.”

Happy holidays. And good will to all.

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