from Chapter 7 - Tear and Bleed
“Good deeds are
feeble things. Almsdeeds. They’re no harder than the choice to do
them. Help an old man to his feet. Fetch a child’s doll from the
stream where she dropped it. Hold the post straight while your
neighbour hammers it in. You’re not a good person to do these
things. You’re an arsehole if you don’t do them. You know it. The
wretch you snub knows it. So whatever thanks you get for doing them
is not clean, but brought forth from the ready grudge of the owed,
like a blossom grown on a dunghill.
A good deed is only selfless in that the deed blesses itself. The
doer? He’s a shoe to its foot. He is to be grateful for the chance
to do something anyone else should have done. You ask me, this isn’t
what good is. It’s a mean burden a man steps under whenever he is
around other men, and which the strong end up shouldering the most
of. It’s a weakling’s cheaping founded on warped shrift.
“What we seek to do is a better kind of good. It’s the only kind of good that the strongest ought to have a share in. Most folks, they work selfishly to bring themselves somewhere that doing good gets easy. It’s an afterthought, a copper tossed in a beggar’s lap. It does not pain them. It does not drain them. It’s a thrill of pride, a spring off the head of someone on his knees. That’s not what we want. We want the work and the deed to be one, to do the kind of good that puts an end to evil, whatever shape it takes. That’s what we want to do. The greater the better. We want to hunt the wyrm to its hole. Stare down the thurse. Make the troll eat fire. We want to drag the wolves back dead through the folds they fed from. That’s a kind of good few seek to do, and fewer can bring about, for the simple truth that a mistake means you’re dead. But those who die trying are still held up as better men than those who run the mill. And the ones who pull it off? They’re something even better.”
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