Friday, July 18, 2008

Little Grey Cells

“Do not open your heart to evil. Because— if you do— evil will come… Yes, very surely evil will come… It will enter in and make its home within you, and after a little while it will no longer be possible to drive it out.” –Death on the Nile

Hercule Poirot is perhaps the greatest creation of perhaps the greatest writer of detective fiction ever. At any rate Agatha Christie is the best selling author of all time, so popularity enters into the equation somewhere. Over the course of 33 novels and 54 short stories the little, strange, Belgian sleuth solved perplexing cases with annoying arrogance. The secret to his success was the age old logic and observation of a Holmes combined with his very own understanding of people’s behavior. In Poirot’s world (and in reality as well) people are known by their actions. In other words, a person does not act against their own character; which is knowable through the observation of their normal behavior.

Since the days of Hercule Poirot, the world’s understanding of ethics and people’s behavior has changed quite a bit. It seems today that everyone is willing to allow for split personalities in most people. Sure, a person may be a cad and totally untrustworthy in their private life, but that doesn’t make them a bad president—just to site one example. Hercule Poirot would differ with popular opinion. If someone is shown to have a problem with the truth and trustworthiness in one area of their life, then they can be assumed to be that way in every area of life.

That is not to say that Poirot’s world is all “black and white.” There are complex issues to be dealt with. However, the condition of a person’s heart—as evidenced in their outward behavior—is a faithful indicator of who they are and what they are capable of. Just because we live in a society of guilty people who don’t like to feel guilt is no reason to start giving everyone a pass in hopes that we will not come under scrutiny as well.

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