Kobe Bryant, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Kissenger

By Ted Levine (January 28, 2020)

I’m not a basketball fan, or a fan of any sport, and I don’t care very much about the lives of rich and famous people (except when I do). But the reflection below spoke to me about the complexity of feelings about people who have done some terrible things, but also some admirable things.

I think it’s somehow key to our survival as a species that we have the capacity to, not forgive exactly or necessarily, but to love people who are complex and have done some terrible things at one or more points in their lives.

It’s one of the most fascinating themes in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy. In that series, there is a longevity treatment that allows people to live, and remain healthy and active, for several centuries. It’s not perfect though. Memories start to degrade. So people live out very different careers, and develop and grow into very different people than they were at one point (but not without some continuity), without really much remembering some of their past “lives.” And they can become lovable after having been terrible, and have no memory of the terrible things they did centuries before.

It’s a rich and fascinating thought experiment about human complexity, identity, redemption, restorative justice, forgiveness, etc.

Don’t get me wrong. Kissinger is still evil.

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