Do we have to be good all the time?

Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi)

Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi)

In the  episode of Doctor Who, Inside The Dalek, in Peter Capaldi’s first season as the Time Lord, he asks his companion Clara if he is a good man. Clara’s reply suggests that since his regeneration, she doesn’t really know who he is any more. Probably she never really did, nor could any of us really know who (no pun intended) such a complex character might be, albeit in this case fictional.

History is full of good men and women, and bad of course too. It seems that many of these people were complex characters, yet often their message was simple or their deeds that had the greatest impact were simple; some heroic, some not. How good were these good people? So many recent media reports that have dug into public figures pasts, find something of which the person investigated is not proud.

When this happens we often tend to focus on the allegations against them, forgetting the good that they had previously accomplished. That is not to say they don’t deserve justice for their crimes. We were reminded at Oscar Pistorious’ trial, by Judge Masipa, that the sentence must be “fair and just, both to society and the accused”

Sometimes good people do bad things with good intent. Should we penalise these people also? Again I can refer to Doctor Who for an answer when in the episode Mummy On The Orient Express, he tells Clara that “Sometimes the only choices you have are bad ones, but you still have to decide.”. In this episode he was doing what we mere mortals, especially those of faith, ascribe to God. He was essentially deciding who lived and who died at the hands of The Foretold, as the monster was described in that episode.

This choice was forced on him in order to discover a way to neutralise the threat of the monster. If he did not make the choice, then more people would die than if he made no choice at all. He was a good man with no good choices, trying to do the right thing.

So back to his original question to Clara, when he asked her if he was a good man. Her answer:

“You asked me if you were a good man, and
the answer is I don’t know but I think you
try to be and that’s probably the point.”


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