The Owner and I are watching TV. The Men in White and the Men in Green are in a Heap fighting over a Ball. The Owner waves her Arms and Shouts Joyfully. England have Won, she says.
It seems to me, I say to the Owner, that You have just Applauded the Gentlemen in White for Stealing the Ball from the Gentlemen in Green then Running Away and Refusing to Give it Back. Moreover, when the Gentlemen in Green tried to Get it Back all the Friends of the Gentlemen in White Jumped on Them, I say. I do not think this game is Very Moral.
On the contrary, says the Owner. The Reason I Applauded, she says, is that England have Won according to the Rules of Fair Play. Look, they are all Shaking Hands now. It is the end.
The Rules of Fair Play do not Normally seem to involve Large Humans Grinding One Another Face Down into the Mud for Ownership of a Ball, I say. I am surprised they are Prepared to Shake Hands after that. That one is Completely Filthy. And that one has Squashed Ears.
The Shaking Hands, says the Owner, is just as important as the Rugby, if not more so. The Squashed Ears are Morally Irrelevant. Rugby is a game in which a certain amount of Soft Physical Violence if permissible within Agreed Limits on the Understanding that Everyone Knows the Rules and will be Friends at the End.
I thought the Point of the Game was to Win it, I say.
No, says the Owner, one cannot Win Simply by Winning. One wins by Playing Fair. Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games said the Important thing in Life is not the Triumph, but the Fight. The Essential Thing is not to have Won, but to have Fought Well.
This sounds like an Excellent Moral Philosophy, I say. So it is Possible to Agree Rules involving Singlehanded Pursuit of Balls through Crowds of Small Persons, in the Presence of a Great Deal of Shouting, and even involving a Certain Amount of Falling Over and Mud, and even in the presence of Squashed Ears, as Long as the Persons Understand the Rules?
Indeed, says the Owner. One Could Say it is Rather like the Rules of Life. If you Step onto the Pitch and Indicate Preparedness to Play you are then Subject to the Rules. And after that it is the How the Game is Played, rather than Whether the Ears are Squashed in the Process, that Matters.
We need such Excellent Rules for the Park, I say. It seems to me that the Moral Dog could draw these up in a Trice, I say. In the presence of Such an Agreement, if the Persons did not Shake Hands at the End the Whole Ball-Mud-Squashed Ears Episode but instead Persuaded the Park Keeper to Issue the Moral Dog with an ASBO they would not have understood that the Important thing in life is not the Triumph but the Fight and would not have Played Fair, I say.
Nice Try, says the Owner.
Sometimes it appears the Odds are Really Stacked against the Moral Dog.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.