I have a new theory: even those out to destroy have good reasons for doing what they do, precisely because “good” is often a matter of opinion, and situational ethics thrive best in complex situations. Lying, for example. People justify it all sorts of ways: if they tell the truth, someone else gets hurt. If they tell the truth, they get hurt. If they tell the truth, they don’t get to sufficiently hurt the person who hurt them.

Or perhaps it isn’t even “lying.” It could be “fishing,” an interrogation technique where you deliberately misdirect someone in order to force the truth out. It could be “suspension,” in which you mislead someone temporarily because the time is not ripe for the actual facts of the case. It could be “avoidance,” where you swear to the truth in such a way that the truth becomes obscured. It could be “predicting,” particularly if it relates to the future…. And predictions often fail, particularly if one’s memory is bad. It could just be a clear case of the ends justifying the (glorious) means, whatever those are.

This is one reason why, in every study of ethics there is, the golden rule stands out so brightly. One cannot operate in this way and act according to how one would wish to be treated oneself.