Saturday, November 24, 2012

Life Isn't Fair, Thank God- The Sunday Collage

Have you ever stopped and thought about this whole "life ain't fair" meme that has been circulating like uneaten holiday fruitcake... for years and years?

First and foremost I must tell you this. Once upon a time I never believed in anything spiritual. If some object or thing in my life wasn't tangible, touchable, or provable, I immediately marginalized, dismissed, or eliminated that concept, object, or thing. The process I used to do this is called "contempt prior to investigation." Contempt prior to investigation is a product of human ego. With relative safety, I think it's safe to say that billions of people practice contempt prior to investigation.

I am also a guy who relied on evidence, human behavior, and my best judgment for most of my life. I believed in tangibility. I was a chicken shit atheist- which is another term for an agnostic. Had life been fair to me, I probably would have continued on that trajectory.

When you hear people say that life isn't fair, this is what they are really saying. "I want life to give me everything I want. I want and deserve more." Unfortunately, life only has a finite amount of resources and since six billion people all crave the same things- that isn't going to work out. If you do get something, that probably means somebody else eventually is going to have to go without- when that resource runs out. So what people are really saying is, "I want life to be more fair to me than to others." Ain't that a rich concept? We are actually seeing this in health care where only the rich have access. The life ain't fair crowd have another problem. They don't have the perspective of some macro view beyond their limited reality. Maybe "fair" would mean dying of starvation on the African continent. Or dying of disease or malaria in a Guatemalan village. Maybe "fair" means something else. Perhaps it means some average life somewhere. Unfortunately it seems that everyone wants a beach house- but they've run out of beach.

So the life ain't fair crowd ignores everything that they have or possess- while always clamoring for more and better. The beach house. 

Had life been fair to me, I'd probably be dead. The truth is, I probably don't deserve the things that I have. But more importantly, I just happened to be paying attention when this was pointed out to me in kind of a nasty, harsh way. Had I been practicing my usual contempt prior to investigation theme, I might have missed the greatest lesson in my life. Thankfully I wasn't. Of course life's not fair and you and I... are the beneficiaries.

Everyday, I work with people who are worried about their lives and their money. What a terrible problem to have. They had the opportunity or the good fortune to wind up with a heap of money and now they act like it is some woeful burden. They are worried about their money when so many have none. 

Just a couple of years ago, I was listening to a young gal tell me how upset she was that she had received a "B" in some class at college. It was one of those 5 minute stories about how she had been treated unfairly by her teacher. Later that night she went home and talked about how offended she was with her room-mates because they had offered her a beer knowing that she was trying to stay sober. She was very angry and upset about this- like it was their fault that she had an alcohol problem.

That is world class, maybe even gold medal, unconsciousness. I couldn't help myself. I pulled the trigger. I told her that maybe she should be thankful that she was born into a family that saw the advantage of a college education and encouraged her emotionally and financially to attend. That she should be grateful that she had money, a second roof over her head, and room mates who were simply trying to be decent to her or at the very least, tease her a little. Big deal. I explained that where I had just come from, the tent city under the Claiborne Bridge in New Orleans, anyone there would have been happy to have her "problems." Maybe happy just for some electricity.

Immediately and predictably, she became very angry. So angry that she jumped up, turned, and left the room. I have not seen her again. I think maybe I was a conduit that day. She was busy being a victim, wallowing in self pity with cadillac problems, trying to find someone to tell her what she wanted to hear. Instead, I told her what she needed to hear. Of course I felt bad but the reality was that somebody had to tell her this. Perhaps her solution going forward will be to be more cautious about who she whines to. If she gets really, really, lucky maybe she will realize that what I said to her that day was something she desperately needed to hear. I am going to set aside my contempt prior to investigation- and just hope she got that memo. 

The harshest, yet most useful lessons I have ever received in life, came from virtual strangers. Immediately, three of those lessons come to mind. If you stop and think about it, I'll bet we have that in common. If some stranger or fringe player has said something to you that has angered you or even embarrassed you, chances are good that there was some truth in it. For those of you who can set aside contempt prior to investigation- you can learn a lot about yourself by evaluating how others see you.
Sometimes people are simply nasty, you have to learn to dismiss that stuff. It really has nothing to do with you.

Today, I accept that life isn' fair and that the vast majority of us have benefitted from this. There is some sort of spiritual journey going on here- well beyond that of my old micro managed and tangible reality- I realize that now. Today when I see angry people saying nasty things, or people whining about how life is treating them unfairly in the midst of their 2000 sqf house or within the confines of their luxury sport utility vehicle with a sunroof, I mostly just keep my mouth shut. They're going to have to learn this the hard way, like I did. I'll be damned if I am going to help them. Besides, I am getting too old to keep pissing people off. 




MJ said...

Have you considered the possibility, Brian, that even though you weren't cool with God earlier in your life, that God was always cool with you? That He reached out to you via the homeless fellow living under that bridge in New Orleans? Maybe the Big Guy had finally decided that the time was right to make his introduction by saying, "hey, ignoramus....your life ain't perfect I know, but it's a damned sight better that some poor prick living under a bridge who wants nothing more than a clean pair of socks, so stop your pissing and moaning over trivial matters, and start showing a bit of gratitude for what you already have." Things happen for a reason, so maybe that was His way of reaching out to you.

Anonymous said...

As technology keeps getting better to compensate for stupid people (which leads to better technology, stupider people, better technology, etc.), you shouldn't be too surprised that some snot-nosed teenaged twit walked out on you in a huff for telling her an uncomfortable truth. People these days are more immature, more insecure, their egos are huge (and quite fragile) and they have a sense of entitlement that is amazing for its sheer audacity. Best, like you said, for a fellow to keep his mouth shut and let folks go their own merry way, and if they do come looking for sympathy, give it to them. Ninety-nine percent of the time, people aren't looking for advice, they're looking for sympathy. Besides, the little twit was right, at least from her own perspective (twisted and ill-informed though that perspective may appear to us). So too is everyone else right, again from their own perspective.

Anonymous said...

But,it ain't fair that life ain't fair! LOL!

Brian said...

Excellent point and I agree with the whole concept. I needed the whack over the head.

Conceptually I evolved away from the old guy in a big chair thing....I think we have a universal intelligence. A friend of mine gave me the book "Journey of Souls" which has kind of changed my entire thought process. Thanks for stopping by.

Brian said...

Another excellent observation and comment. I felt bad, really, about letting her have it. It was a public thing so maybe I could have done it more discreetly but I don't think the result would have been any different.

Our culture is changing. We've turned into a bunch of spoiled, entitled brats. Or we are raising them. I often wonder if every older group of people just say that about the younger generations. Like its almost some rite of passage. Or new found clarity.

Who knows? Thanks for stopping by and writing.

Brian said...

Can you imagine how fucking boring it would be if it were? I'd die of boredom.

MJ said...

I'm not the kind of guy to beat another guy over the head with a bible or try to stuff my philosophy down his throat, having pulled some fairly stupid stunts in my own life, but I believe there is a God (and if you want to use the term "universal intelligence", that's ok too, since I believe they're one and the same, and that there is a logic to the chaos surrounding us). Having said that, I do believe that God (universal intelligence) speaks to us every day in a myriad of subtle ways and generally through the actions of others around us, it's just that most of us (99.9%) are too proud, ignorant, stupid or cocksure most of the time (99.9%) to clue in. Too soon old and too late wise.

All right, I don't want to turn your site into some kind of freaky philosopher's corner that starts drawing bugs, so I'll leave off at what I said. I'll take a gander, also, at the book you mentioned. Later.

MJ said...

Intriguing. Just ordered the book on amazon.

Anonymous said...

"Like it's their fault she had an alcohol problem..."

And yet you berate a college student because its somehow her fault there are people starving in Africa? I would have enjoyed this so much more if it wasn't riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies in logic and basic human psychology. Like a well written rant from a grumpy old man. Eh.

Anonymous said...

Also your gross generalizations are counter productive. I see three people somehow commenting on the "99.9%" and entire generations. Contrbuting intelligent commentary and debate should be the primary focus. Anything less and you are sadly no better...

Brian said...

What set you off? See a little too much truth? Feel a little angst?
You spell well, but comprehension? I gotta give ya an "F."

-Grumpy, old, contradictory, and inconsistent man. (You say that like it's something bad)

Brian said...

Btw, whiner, I wrote a blog yesterday about people like you.