Saturday, October 8, 2016

     There are few positive headlines these days. I used to wonder what senior citizens used to rant and rave about when I was younger. Now I know. “Things aren’t like they were in the good old days,” they chant. Well, “the good old days” change with every generation, and the bottom line complaints seem, in my humble opinion, to always focus on something that someone didn’t get—some injustice, something that others got by being greedy or pushy or simply by taking what wasn’t theirs. In today’s world where everything is so out there, so raw, so undefined, it’s a total free for all. Whatever you want, just take it. Whatever you need, you deserve it. Whatever someone else has that you don’t, fight for your right to have it.

     What happened to decorum? humility? kindness? decency? compassion?

     I don’t like being around negative people. I cringe when even those I care about start ranting their “That’s just not fair!” poor-me tunes. Yes I’ve done it myself. But, come on, folks, we don’t have to be altruistic to care about our fellow human beings. 

     When you read about all the devastation of Haiti, do you say to yourself, “Thank goodness, that didn’t happen here. Thank goodness it didn’t happen to me.” Or do you say to yourself, “I wish I could help,” or “I need to go there to help.” Many of us focus on the selfish thoughts such as “We dodged another bullet,” or “Whew! That was close!” Yes, I said this myself. This begs the question, “What can one do?” My point is not so much what we can do, but how we choose to frame the situation. Instead of the dodge-the-bullet thinking; how about “Thank you, Lord, for sparing us this disaster, and please be with those who are dealing with it.” 

     This is not a religious essay; this is a reminder to myself and a plea to others to take out the comparison, injustice thinking and replace it by gratitude and compassion. Sometimes I get greedy for more money. I want this money so I can help others, not to buy a new dress or a Ferrari. If I had a little more money, I could send some to Haiti. I could buy a massage for my friend who is grieving. I could send flowers to my daughter who isn’t feeling well. Well, guess what? I could do this today, but I have spent the money on myself. So it’s not that I don’t have the money; it’s the choices I made of how to spend it. We have those same choices with our words.

     We can spend our words complaining, demeaning, criticizing, or we can use them to soothe, to heal, to spread joy. Think of all the money we waste. We buy $5 lattes, $200 phones, $12 Cosmos, but we don’t send money to people who have just lost their homes. Think of all the words we waste. We spend hours talking about football scores and arguing our political philosophies, but we fail to take time to really listen to our kids and give them the few words that will guide them, support them. 

     Greed is human, but it doesn’t have to define us. In this world of instant gratification and instant retaliation, let us recognize our greed, each of us individually. Let us look in the mirror, and ask ourselves the role greed plays in our own lives, and maybe make some adjustments. Let’s turn “It’s all about me” into “It’s all about us.” I don’t know about you, but I have some serious work to do.