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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The D word

"You get what you put in and people get what they deserve
Still I ain't seen mine, no I ain't seen mine
I've been givin' but just ain't gettin' I've been walkin' that thin line
So I think I'll keep a walking with my head held high"
 - Kid Rock, Only God Knows Why

When you were a kid did your mom have a specific saying or rule for life that she repeated to you over and over? Mr. Deep's mom used to say, "you buttered your bread, now sleep on it." My friend's mom used to say "if you're bored you're boring." 

Actually Mr. Deep's mom didn't exactly say "you buttered your bread now sleep on it." But she was known for saying both "you buttered your bread now eat it" and "you made your bed now sleep in it" and Mr. Deep being quite hilarious, even at a young age, changed it to "you buttered your bread, now sleep on it."

I wonder in this day of of bounce house birthday parties are moms are still imparting these one line snippets of wisdom onto their children? 

My mom's words of wisdom were, "life's not fair." And of course she was correct.

The thing about life not being fair is that we all know it, but time after time we keep forgetting and repeatedly becoming outraged, disappointed and upset when unfair things happen. Meanwhile, we are more than happy to congratulate ourselves or others when good things happen that we deem fair and well deserved.

I'm not suggesting we all become robots and start muttering life's not fair over and over in a monotone voice. And I'm not saying we should stop caring about the things that are going on around us good or bad, but I am going to start taking a small stand against the idea that good things happen for good people and bad things happen to people who are either bad, not good enough, or worse, don't try hard enough to make good things happen for themselves. 

How am I going to make this stand? This declaration? From this day onward I am no longer going to use the word deserve. As I said, it's a small stand but it's an important one because we are all using this D word countless times a day. We are saying it out loud to each other (you deserve better) and silently to ourselves in our own heads (I didn't deserve that.) In my opinion, the D word relieves us of taking responsibility for our own actions, and using it is disrespectful to those who are suffering. 

You probably think I have gone off the deep end, so let me explain a bit.

"I went to the gym today. I deserve to have ice cream."
No, I don't. I want to have ice cream and for some reason I feel the need to tell myself and everybody else within earshot why it's a great idea, my destiny if you will, for me to have ice cream. From now on if I want ice cream then I will just eat it minus any large announcement about the efforts I put in throughout the day which led me to my decision. I will just say it, "I want ice cream." Or, "I'm having ice cream." Or even, "watch how much ice cream I can eat in one sitting." The same goes for a new car, a new house, clothes, a vacation, a fancy purse, beauty treatments or anything else. I don't deserve these things and I don't not deserve them. I might want them and if I want them then I will decide if I can afford to get them, weigh how much I really want them and go from there.

I am going to stop using the D word when congratulating others. I am no longer going to send emails that say congratulations on your well-deserved promotion (this will actually be quite easy being that I don't have a job or any co-workers but you get the idea.) Instead I will say, "you worked really hard, it is great to see that your efforts are being recognized by the company." Or, "you'll be great in your new role." But the D word will not be used. Why? Because a lot of people deserve promotions, not everyone gets promotions, working hard does not mean you deserve a promotion and not everyone who gets promoted deserves it. 

I am also not going to celebrate anymore when bad things happen to people I don't like. If Donald Trump slips on a marble floor in one of the Trump buildings and cracks his head open because some immigrant didn't mop the floor properly, I am not going to say that Donald got what he deserved. I might laugh, but I will not use the D word. Because if I did say that Donald got what he deserved, then I'd have to go around reminding anyone and everyone who has had a mishap caused by the universe that they either did or didn't deserve what happened to them and that is silly.

"I'm sorry you have cancer, you don't deserve this." 
That is a horrible thing to say to someone. The person is likely thinking back over his entire life rehashing every hot dog eaten, every martini consumed, every bit of anger held onto and every dental x-ray taken wondering what he did that caused the cancer. And does anyone really deserve to get cancer? If so, who? Charles Manson? People who prey on children? People who beat dogs?  Who are we to decide who deserves what? Even someone who smokes three packs of cigarettes a day for 50 years doesn't deserve cancer. We might be less surprised if that person is diagnosed with cancer, but that doesn't mean she or he deserves to suffer or that his or her family should have to endure heartache. 

Moving to Africa has reminded me just how much so many people are struggling. I hope that Christine does not wonder what she did in life to deserve to live in a shack, with no electricity and without running water, surrounded by trash. Because I can promise you she did nothing to deserve it. Did Gift deserve to be born in Zimbabwe and forced to live under Mugabe's leadership? Does he deserve a life where he has to work six or seven days a week yet still barely has enough money to buy food and by food I mean maize meal and some occasional chicken? And I don't deserve the great life I have. Yes, I have worked hard. Yes, I try to be a good person. Yes, I am grateful for all that I have both material and abstract. But deserving? That is where I have to draw the line. 



4 comments:

  1. Very well put! It's great when someone actually thinks about things, especially words and what they mean. (I had to laugh at the Trump example.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very nice sentiment and put into a good story. I'm with you 100%!

    ReplyDelete

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have moved from the U.S. to South Africa for three years. We moved due to an exciting opportunity my husband had with his job. Second, I won't be working anymore. I'm actually not allowed to work so that will be different given that for the past twenty years I've been somewhat of a workaholic. I'm excited to share our adventures with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.