But time back when you are a kid doesn’t really have meaning.
You’re tired? Sleep!
You’re hungry? Eat!
Bathroom? You’re wearing it… those were the days, now you get looked at funny.
Morality is a fluid concept. I know people will argue that there is right and there is wrong but even the most right thing can be wrong. I think I said it best in a comment I made, even the most just of swords used to defend the people can swing both ways. I’m sure you and I know that Hitler was wrong in what he was doing. But, do you think that he was honestly thinking to himself, ‘Wow, I’m a huge mega-asshole… Oh well I can get away with it so I’ll keep being a huge dick, maybe no one will notice.’
Sartre, I think summed it up best when he said, ‘Hell is other people’. He must have been talking about my family when he came up with it. Of course I imagine hell a little more enjoyable. I think it’s interesting that you can build your own reality and live in it so totally that no one will ever change your mind. ‘But Hitler, killing all the Jews is bad, what are we going to accomplish?’ ‘Nonsense Sfen back to the Jew killing! It’s not like it’s hurting anyone!’ (because everyone knows his best friend was named Sfen, of course).
People usually argue upbringing for being a dick. Oh my father beat me so I beat my wife. My grandmother ran away from my grandfather because he hit her and their children (including my father) but yet they are both okay with hitting me. My grandmother tries to justify it whenever we talk (which has been some time now thankfully) and will never actually admit it was wrong. Even when I told her point blank that if she ran away to not be hit don’t you think you shouldn’t hit your grandchild? She not so tactfully changed the subject to how I was pawned off on her.
So why am I the one who sees it differently? What made my moral compass point so far away from theirs? If I had to honestly give the answer (which was the point of this post) I would have to say it was a once in a lifetime encounter with a stranger that changed my entire frame of mind. I don’t know where to start it so, I will tell it the only way I know how. Exactly as I remember it, confusion and all.
I was about 2 years old. Maybe 3 and in the hospital, I remember that much. The waiting room not actual hospital and it felt like it had been DAYS! (which means it was probably minutes but hey, fuck you I was a kid). I know my grandmother was there, so I might be older than I think (for reasons I will not delve into). But I was bored and the adults weren’t playing with me, there were no toys, no games, no electronics that kids have today, no TV, no nothing but silence and adults that didn’t want to play. So I was climbing around under the chairs, right below where they sat playing in the dust and exploring the magical world of under the seats (Cue the little mermaid song now).
Then an older woman came over and started talking to my grandma, she said she had seen me playing and bought me a toy from the gift shop. I don’t recall if I said thank you but I am fairly sure I did. She gave me the toy, probably said all sorts of sweet things about me to my family and wondered off. I never saw her again but I will never forget the bunny, or what she did for me.
It was that solitary random act of kindness that was so unique to my child brain that I still remember it very clearly to this day. The day to day gets old so you don’t remember huge chunks of your life (I remember watching TV a LOT as a child but never what I was watching for example). How was this stranger, this lovely, beautifully kind hearted, perfect angel of a woman going to know that my life was going to be so hard after she handed me that stuffed bunny? That her random act of kindness was going to be the only act of kindness that I was going to see for years and years to come.
Maybe that was all it takes, you see first hand how one person can change a lifetime and you see first hand that the sword swings both ways. You see which way you really want it to swing. Since that day 25+ years ago I knew which way I wanted that sword to swing. I live my life a very simple way. I honestly don’t need much, I live a very modest life I don’t own many things and I don’t think I need a whole lot of things to be happy.
I take what I need and when I have extra I pass it on. I used to give a loaf of bread and some odds and ends of food to a couple homeless people that set up a camp(ish) thing near my apartment whenever I had some extra money to buy things for them. I don’t give money to homeless, ever. Mostly because they could use it for drugs or alcohol but just because they have these issues there is no good reason for them to starve, or go hungry. One was a navy vet so I felt particularly bad for his situation since I know first hand how the war and military can change your life for the better and simultaneously for the worst.
I have been beaten down so many times in life that the feeling from that one woman has pushed me to do the same for the people around me. I don’t expect anything back, I don’t want you to pay me back or be indebted to me. If anything I want you to pay it forward to the next person. Part of reason for writing this is because I have a particular friend in my life who is going through some rough times and I am in a position to help.
She is being stubborn about it and she is allowed of course. I love her, she is a good friend and an amazing individual who has had a lot of rough times much like myself. While she hasn’t totally rebuffed my efforts to try to help her I am still nervous she won’t let me. Life has made her (all of us really) suspicious that when someone extends a hand to help you off the ground because life knocks you on your ass that the person who is helping you up wants something. And why wouldn’t he want something, right?
Well I admit it. I admit here to all of you and probably her that I have selfish motives. I want to help make the world a better place, I want to be remembered like I remember that woman. There is a whole other post in that sentence alone but I will save that for later. But that is my selfish motive, I don’t want anything other than to see the people around me happy. I can’t quite reach out and change the world… yet. One day I hope to be a commonplace, household name. But right now, I do the little things I can do to help the people around me.
After all, that is why we are here. To lift others up because we all need a hand from time to time. Life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it a little more fair for the people around us. Sure you can’t save a drowning man if you are drowning as well. But if you are barely treading water you should at least extend a hand in the hopes that the person drowning next to you will be able to tread water too with just a little more help.
In some aspects I am drowning, life is hard. But I am in other ways, I am treading just fine. So this is just me extending my hand. No one wants to watch someone drowned if they can do something about it. Well, except for maybe Hitler, and I don’t want to be that kind of household name.