News of the Gates divorce exploded over two weeks ago and it, or its shrapnels, are still hitting the headlines. Bill Gates, the world’s most well known, and formerly admired philanthropist, suddenly finds himself targeted by volleys of moral accusations, almost portrayed a wolf in sheepskin and the company he founded, Microsoft, is now one of a “toxic culture” from top to bottom, where sexual harassments have been tolerated and taken for granted, where women have felt “ignored, abused and degraded.” I wonder why such news didn’t come out at the peak of #Me2 movement.
As the Gates divorce continues to spill across the world’s headlines along with the rockets and airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, I see a pattern where the masses gather quickly, eagerly and efficiently with a supercilious stance to judge and proclaim sanctimonious judgements. A pattern not dissimilar to China’s cultural revolution, where crowds of neighbours, co-workers, fellow teachers, classmates, former friends, relatives and families as well as strangers quickly, eagerly and efficiently swamped the scaffold to show their accusatory stance regardless of who and what the accused was and whether the accused was really guilty or not. One’d be damned if he/she was politically wrong. Any voice off that sanctimonious tone may be damned, too. One simply couldn’t afford to give, at least in public, his sympathy for the damned. When a wall is about to collapse, everybody pushes it; When a man is down, everybody boots him.
Not that I think Bill Gates’s extramarital affairs, his association with Epstein, and his tolerance of his employees’s sexism are acceptable, but a balance is needed and the good things the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done shouldn’t be ignored or taken for granted. I hope Mr. Bill Gates wouldn’t be so discouraged by the news coverage that he’d discontinue doing good things, which, regardless of his motivation (He wants a Nobel Prize? So what? As long as people can benefit from the billionaire’s ambition! I don’t care a penny about who is awarded what prizes.), seem to me far more important than his private life.
Which somehow reminds me of an episode of Black Mirror, “Striking Vipers.” Though the episode is about virtual sex, it certainly raises questions about marriage, sexual relationships, romance, and the dilemma of love, which is selfish and selfless all at once. And what is love, after all, when we talk about love? Asked Raymond Carver. Maugham thinks it is chiefly the instinct for the propagation of the species, which explains why most men will fall in love with any woman in their way, and when unable to win the first woman, will immediately turn to the second. As soon as the instinct for propagation has been satisfied, the madness which blinded the lover disappears and leaves him with a wife to whom he is indifferent. Would Maugham define extramarital affair love, too? Or lust pursued out of boredom? The boredom of marriage. Love or lust, it makes me wonder if humans would fare better and live happier if we, both men and women, are emancipated from marriage. But then, with or without the cage of marriage, with or without the help of modern, post-modern or post-post-modern technologies, humanity probably won’t change much, as “Striking Vipers” tries to tell us.
So, once again, I can’t help but remember that famous line comparing dogs and humans, said to be a Frenchman’s lament made famous by Mark Twain. “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”
Hmm, What would Mark Twain say about the Gates divorce and the news coverages of it?