The Tao of Eastwood

Chapter 16

A Good Man’s Job

Go ahead, make my day.

Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan | Sudden Impact

What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man’s job?
If you don’t understand this, you will get lost,
However intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.

Tao Te Ching | from verse 27

Arguably, the most famous of all Clint Eastwood one liners. Dirty Harry doesn’t shy away from violence, but his driving motivation is to restore balance to a system he views as corrupt and chaotic. The bureaucrats and politicians are every bit a part of the problem as the drug dealers. Inspector Callahan, however, is as incorruptible on the streets as he is in City Hall.

Doubtful he would describe himself as “good”. He is only doing what he sees needs to be done, so people can go about their lives without fear. He doesn’t judge the “bad” guys for being bad; so much as he fervently wants them to stop acting crazy and hurting people. Unfortunately for them, he will do so by any means.

In Sudden Impact, Callahan is on the case to find an apparent serial killer. Unknowingly, he falls for the killer; a woman on a quest for vengeance as she tracks down the men who once attacked her. He is sympathetic to her motives, as they are similar to his own. But he is un-approving of her above-the-law methods.

“What is a bad man but a good man’s job?” furthers the idea that Inspector Callahan exists only because the criminal also exists. It is his job to be the opposing example.

What else is there in this life but to be an example for all those that don’t see the Way? Not by preaching at them with empty rhetoric, but rather by walking the walk.