Monday, January 31, 2011
Sharing What We Have Plenty Of To Make Things More Fair
I am letting my shoulders down out of my ears and drinking my espresso as the sun starts its slide towards the horizon. It is almost agonizingly beautiful here this afternoon and it never did rain except for a few drops here and there and I neither went to Tallahassee nor mopped my floors but instead went to Monticello with Lily and Owen. Lily had a deer-sausage-related errand to run and I had left my script at the Opera House and needed to pick it up and we had lunch at Tupelo's while we were there. And truthfully, it's been a lovely day and now Lily and Owen are on their way home to see the new floors that Daddy Jason is laying and Mr. Moon is on his way to Orlando for business and I...
Here I am.
I was thinking this morning about Greta Garbo and how she is known for saying, "I just want to be alone," or perhaps, more accurately, "I just vant to be alone," and how the older I get, the more I feel that way too. Of course, not really. Not all the time, by any means, but I am a person who damn well needs some time alone or I go crazy.
Short trip, as Mr. Moon would say.
And that feels so selfish sometimes but it is what it is and the bottom line is, if I don't get alone time, the people around me are not going to be happy to be around me. Or not so much.
I feel like a very selfish person a lot of the time. And I probably am. No doubt about it. But I know that I do for others as I would have them do unto me, for the most part, and I try to be a good person and I don't even know why except that I do believe that most of us do try to be good people which brings me to something else I've been thinking about all afternoon which is a blog post that my friend Terry wrote today. The post is entitled "It's Not Fair...." and by golly, it's a good one. I am rather amazed at how fully-formed Terry's writing is, coming out of the shoot, as it were. She's just recently started blogging and I love her plain talk about family and being a woman and a member of her community and life and death, and today's post hit me especially where it counts and it's about how life just is not fair and although this was not exactly her point, it seems to me that one of our functions as compassionate human beings is to try to make whatever we can while we are here a little more fair.
This is something that a lot of right-wing thinkers obviously do not believe. There was a letter in our paper this morning written by a guy who is so damn het-up about how the dirty Democrats want the rich to pay more in taxes than the poor and how it's not even MORAL and he quoted Jefferson in that "all men are created equal" to prove a point and I'm not sure what it was and he ended by saying, "It is fundamentally wrong to take money from producers, under threat, and give that money to nonproducers without the owner's permission. Charity is not a function of government, but of society."
You know, I get so sick of this kind of talk. I'm sorry but so many Republicans sound like big ol' rich babies whining that everyone is trying to take their toys away from them. Their hard-earned toys. When in fact we all know that the rich do not get taxed in the same ways as the middle-class and can afford accountants and lawyers who can find loopholes the size of a gnat's eye and stretch them out big enough for a camel to pass through, thus ensuring that they get taxed even less.
Yeah, yeah. I'm a bleeding heart liberal and I do believe that part of the government's function is to protect those who, although they may have been created equal, certainly did not arrive here as such. LIFE AIN'T FAIR and quoting Jefferson is not going to make it so.
I always have hated the phrase There's two types of people on this earth... but you know, maybe there are.
Those who think that life should be fair and fight with all of their might to make sure that the fairness comes down on their side and those who think that life should be fair, recognize that it isn't, and try to make it a little more so.
And as Terry pointed out so wisely, there are so many ways to do that. Paying taxes is one, of course. Volunteering is another. Donating to causes and charities are also ways. And taking care of friends and family who are suffering the unfairness of age or illness or one of the many unexpected events which can arise without fair warning to any of us, is another way.
And thinking about good-deed-doing in such a light gives a new perspective on the whole subject for me. Here I am, blessed beyond belief with plenty. Plenty to eat, plenty of warm, dry space to live in. Plenty of good health. Plenty of family. Plenty of friends. Plenty of joy. Plenty of LOVE. Shit- has anyone in history ever been this blessed?
Yeah. Maybe. But maybe not.
Plenty. I love that word. So much better than enough because plenty hints at a tiny bit more than enough. And enough is fine, but isn't plenty better?
Back in 1974 the Farm Commune which was led by the ex-Marine, hippie, acid-takin', dope-smokin' teacher named Stephen Gaskin started an organization to help others called Plenty and it's still kicking, I think, even though the commune is now a community but I love the way they got their name. Their feeling at the time was that if everyone lived a sort of voluntary peasant lifestyle, there would be plenty on this earth for everyone.
Well, you know, starry-eyed hippies and all that stuff.
But it's true. There would be plenty if all of us lived closer to the bone. Took care of what was necessary and didn't need so much stuff.
Well, humans are humans and most of us are going to try to live a far richer lifestyle than that of a voluntary peasant and it's practically the American creed to try and accumulate as much as we can and to enjoy the fruits of our labors and not feel guilty about what we have because we earned it and we deserve it and oh... You know. We have a creed of greed but I think that while many of us live this way, we sense that there is a deep unfairness to this philosophy. Deep in our hearts we know that even if we did work hard to accumulate what we have, others work just as hard or harder and cannot manage to accumulate enough to pay the light bill or buy decent food due to a myriad of reasons beyond their control. And that in all fairness, we, who have plenty should do something, something to try and make things a little more fair.
And that something may have nothing whatsoever to do with money. It may well have to do with time. Or a smile. Or being gentle to a stranger when it is obvious that they are in distress. A word sent, an ear offered, a shoulder, an arm. There are so many ways to make things more fair. Life is never, ever going to be entirely fair. No way, no how. But every one of us has the ability to reach out to others in some way to offer a bit of whatever we have plenty of to someone else who does not.
Doesn't the Bible speak of the widow's mite and how that small bit given is as honored by God as a rich man's great tithe?
We're all going to die and none of us is going to take anything with us. Not money, not fame, not beautiful shoes or appliances. And there is nothing wrong with seeking those things. It is human nature to want, to desire, to need. But for those of us who have accumulated plenty of something, whether money or love, it seems to me that sharing it while we are here in some way, to ensure a little more fairness on this earth, is a lovely thing and that trying to hold on without sharing to what we have with grasping fingers is not fair even to ourselves.
Because there is something in us that wants life to be fair. So we can either rail against the fact that it is not or we can do a little something about it.
I choose to do the latter. Not as much as I should, I'm sure, but as much as I can, being the sort of person who loves to be alone, to stay at home.
Thank-you, Terry, for writing that post today. It was perfect and you probably said all that needed to be said on the subject but I just had to write down what my thoughts on the subject were from my perspective.
Life ain't fair. Or as I used to tell my kids, "There's no fair in town today." But we can do what we can to make it a little fairer.
Which may, perhaps, be the true meaning of life. Or not.
I don't know. I'm making this shit up as I go along.
Thanks for coming with me. And share with me what you think.
It's only fair. And isn't that a nice thing?