It's been amazing, watching George Steinbrenner's legacy be burnished by the sports media immediately after his death. But it reinforces a notion of mine. And since this appears to be Murray's Notions Week at Writing Boots, why don't I go ahead and share it?
Steinbrenner, a minor criminal and rich jerk whose name was synonymous with megalomania, workplace bullying and general broad-brush foolishness, is now being remembered for the good things he did, which amount to: purchasing players and managers who won some World Series rings despite his insane hectoring, and giving money away to charity, which all people do, for tax breaks.
(Or, as Steinbrenner's entry in dickipedia describes him, "an American entrepreneur, the principal owner of the New York Yankees, the guy who ruined baseball, and a dick.")
And yet, as a society, we strain to remember the good things.
That's something to keep in mind as we live our own lives: Unless we do something unforgivable or permanently damaging to people—I guess this would include rape, murder, spousal abuse or child abandonment (and arguably workplace brutality, but whatevs)—we are remembered for the good we did do.
And that's as it should be. Our minor mistakes and failings don't set civilization back. But our achievements of empathy and intellect, our contributions to relationships, the lessons we teach, the love we share, the good humor we show—all this nourishes everybody we know and everybody they know and the children of all of those people, and the children of the children, who go on to nourish one another.
The good we give, we give to the cosmic wash.
(And what a comfort: If they love George Steinbrenner after he's gone, think of the good things they'll say about you!)