I shuffled into Hotwire coffee house, damp from drizzle, to meet two teenage friends, sisters.  Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, locked in sibling intensities.  I smiled. “Good to see you two.”

Then began trouble.  Dee piped, “Why do you think you know what is good?  Goodness is prejudice.  The world is always going to be a mess until old people stop imposing their values on everybody.  People must do what they want, without censure or praise.”  I gaped, and started to respond, but Dum jumped in.  “Dee, it’s just the way old people are.  They grew up thinking wars are inevitable.  Make judgments; kill those who disagree.  Right, Brad?”

“Well,” I began.  “My generation made its judgments and wars.  I was conceived during Korea.  Raced Soviets to the moon.  Got my first kiss during Vietnam.  Finished graduate school before the Berlin Wall fell.  Then came Iraq 1 and Balkans and Somalia and Afghanistan and Iraq 2.  Maybe Iran and Korea 2 next.”  I paused, frowning.  “Wars are generally bad ideas.”

Dee’s arms shot up like a referee signaling touchdown.  “There you go again!  You don’t know what is good or bad.  There is no such thing as virtue.  Evil is a projection of infantile insecurities.  ‘Goodness’ is you coercing me to agree.”  I zagged and got us all another cup of coffee.

Rich aromas and a brief respite tamed frothing waters.  I had responses.  Humans are unalterably moral creatures.  Voltaire (French, 18th century A.D.) described virtue as “doing good to one’s neighbor.  . . . I am poor, you are liberal; I am in danger, you come to my help; I am deceived, you tell me the truth; I am neglected, you console me; I am ignorant, you instruct me” (Philosophical Dictionary, Virtue).  And consider Jesus.  But I dropped it.  The Wonderland twins suffered selective deafness that afternoon.  After a twenty minute yammer about life’s inanities, time was up.  I hugged Dee and Dum.  Dum said sheepishly, “We needed to vent.”  I nodded and smiled.

Dee took my hand and whispered, “Thanks.  It was good of you to listen.”