Measuring lives is a nasty business. How do you determine what actions are good and what are bad? Granted we all have some basic societal understanding of what those terms mean,(i.e. murder bad, charity good), but we also have disagreement throughout the world as to what is good and bad. For example, many people in our country have said you are a bad person if you voted for Bush, while others have said you are a bad person if you criticize him.
Do we measure someone’s effect on the world through the people they know or the things they do?
I think a little of both, but honestly, judging people through the eyes of those who know them is likely going to produce the best idea of whether they are good or bad overall. That is, if there is such a thing as an over all good or bad person. (Remember, Darth Vader died saving Luke in the end!)
My mom and I used to talk about throwing pre-death funerals for people. We were going through some very painful times watching our loved ones pass on and we were wondering why we all wait to tell the people we love what we think about them until they can no longer hear us.
I still think the pre-death funeral idea is a good one. I would love to be able to tell my parents all the things I would say at thier funeral, and then know they heard it all before they died.
I also wonder what would be said at my funeral, or what the people in my life think of me. I have certainly hurt and wounded people close to me, I also like to think I have helped people. I know I can be petty and small, but also try to be generous and giving.
In the end, maybe the truest answer is that people aren’t good or bad, they are both, and as long as they are trying to do good things, I think I will mark them on the side of good, regardless of whatever accidental, incidental, or simply stupid harm they may have caused.