Tuesday, January 13, 2009


One of the most disturbing elements of our present culture is our ability to believe that what makes us happy will by universal default makes those around us happy. As though no one can enjoy their lives if we are not enjoying every moment of ours. We are that important. My first awareness of this was years and years ago, probably as a kid, when I heard of the the phenomena wherein a parent becomes a better parent when they are "happy" and so their child benefits. I know you've heard this philosophy connected to divorce. The kid bounces between two homes, adjusts to new boyfriends, girlfriends and step parents who may or may not be there for the long haul. The kid changes their entire concept of mom and dad family to include whomever enters into their lives post divorce...step sibs, aunts, uncles, grands. They learn not be to sad that mom or dad isn't at home any more and we call it progress. What these children learn is to lower their expectations. They never really learn to be happy because mom or dad is happier. And mom or dad don't become better parents because they got what they wanted. No, in fact, if getting your way is what makes you a better anything, you're a pretty crummy something to begin with.

But it isn't just in divorce this happens any longer. Young adults explore life in all manner of selfish ways telling themselves that when they find happiness, we will. If this means a different religion, an alternate life style, not holding down a steady job, living with someone outside of marriage, babies by different partners; if a person is enjoying themselves no one should judge them.

We take others along with us on our own selfish adventures as well. We spend too much money that ultimately comes out of the accounts that support our spouses and our kids. We even spend away the money that would pay for our retirements and allow our extravagance now to be someone else's worry later. Kids who went to Disney World as little ones won't go to college as young adults. We abuse our bodies by eating wrong, sedentary lifestyles, poor management of illnesses and not taking responsibility to know what we need to do for good health and then let our momentary enjoyment become the grief of loved ones who watch us fail and die slowly. But you should be happy as I eat myself into obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and just a general inability to keep up with life. You should be happy because I am happy while I am chewing this food in this moment. Be happy for me.

I have an idea that if we lived in not just concern but downright terror of the effects of our choices on other people, we'd be a very different people. Pleasing ourselves becomes a runaway train very quickly. Soon inconsequential moments of enjoying ourselves become decisions that change the course of other people's lives. It is like a teeter totter, I fly only if you fall.

And somehow we are convinced that you will fall with great pleasure just by watching me fly.

The problem is, no one wants to be the one to fall and we cannot all fly.

Romans 12:9-11Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord...


Deb said...

powerful. made me put away the ice cream....


You have said much in that post. And pierced my heart to the core on several issues.


Trish said...

I got my chubby self on my recumbant bike and rode til I could standst no more. My jeans are tight and i'm not going there again!

KayMac said...

agree w/ deb...powerful and provoking

Louise said...

Excellent post! We so need to hear these words ... and then, be a doer to change what needs changing in us! Thank you Thara!