Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Injustice Of It

When I was a kid, one of our Saturday chores was pulling weeds. I hated it! While it's still not my favorite pastime, I know it needs to be done or soon my house will simply be known as ' the one behind the dandelions'. I remember back in those childhood days quite often saying, "that's not fair, why should I have to pull weeds?" To which my dad would reply, "nobody said life was fair." I'm not sure if it was his favorite saying or just a kneejerk response. I suppose with seven kids all clamoring and questioning the inequities of life, you've got to come up with a mantra and stick with it. But I digress in a forward manner (hmm, maybe that's the technical way to say "Back To The Future!? :) As I was pulling weeds I thought back on my week and some of the substance of it that struck me in one way or another, and my dad's words rang true in my ears once again.

A friend of mine pulled me into her office, with an expression that can only be described as -- beaming! "Check this out!", she said, pointing to her computer monitor in delight. She'd told me a couple of weeks ago that she and her husband were having a baby, so I sort of knew what to expect. It was an ultrasound picture of a baby. "Now check this out!" , she said. To me it looked like the very same picture, but remember, I'm a guy. "Twins!!" , she shouted. She was so excited and I was very happy for them, having known them since they moved here as newlyweds not long forward to a few hours later. A different friend of mine was informed that she was never going to be able to have children. Never. Zero percent chance, according to her doctor. She's in her early 30's, not married, and a complete natural with kids by all accounts.
There are no words of condolence that can fill a hole so deep in despair. Words are empty and they echo in the cavern of hollow feelings. My God, how can this be fair? How can a woman who is more fit than others, seemingly, be made to suffer like this? Unfair!

Last night after my softball game, my nephew invited me to celebrate his 19th birthday with him and his family at home with cake and ice cream. This is my nephew that has been semi-attached at the hip to my daughter since birth. They're 3 weeks apart. Of course, I went. During the course of the evening, my daughter made her way over to her step-dad. The man my ex-wife married a year ago. She sidled up next to him, put her arm around him and remained there for the next ten minutes while I ate cake and ice cream. He's a good man. He loves her mom and her brothers. She should love him. That's how she is--she loves people and she's easy to love. But still. I couldn't help but feel the sting. Was he there when she was born? Did he rock her to sleep? Did he ever cry with her? Does he know the names of her dolls? Does he pace the floors at night when she's out later than normal? What right does he have to that arm around his shoulder? What right?! That's so unfair!

Open your dictionary to the word 'average'. There you'll see a picture of me. Blue eyes, a little too much gray at the temples, too much nose, a few wrinkles. Nothing fancy. Oh sure, there are a few things I can do that might be slightly above average (just don't ask me what they are), but those are certainly offset by the things that I do that are below average. Which lands me where I took off...average. I don't mind being average most of the time. It's a pretty cool gig, actually. You don't get your picture in the paper. Cops don't pull you over and ask you for your autograph. You wait in line at Applebee's unaccosted. Nobody even cares that you're the King of Average. Life is grand in averageland...except for this: The King of The Universe died instead of me. He didn't do anything wrong. It was me. He pretended to be, he agreed to be criminal, so I wouldn't have to die. He didn't fight, or kick, or squirm. He did that for me. There has never been a more atrocious injustice, a more unfair act committed than this, ever. And I don't balk. I don't shake my head in disbelief. I act as if it was owed me. If I can live with this injustice, then I certainly can live with all the others. After all..."nobody said life was fair."


Steph said...

You know, you saved this post with the last few sentences. I was about to reach through this computer and slap you silly. You don't have an average bone in your body - ask anyone who knows you. That's right - they don't even have to know you well to see your above average-ness. It comes out every time you speak and in every above average kind gesture that you would shower on a complete stranger as quickly as a good friend. I don't want to hear any more average talk - don't make me pull this car over! (Just wanted to evoke another sweet childhood memory! :)

Anonymous said...

....from now on...if you are am I.

But enough commentary on your thoughts....I'll just let them impact me....and take comfort from knowing you are a kindred heart. I felt it with the step-dad story...i felt it as a "left out" thing. Not choosen by someone who I thought would choose me. It is not the whole story of her life... but the moment, I do understand. The loneliness can be sharp sometimes. Once we were "the" one and now we're not.

The theme of exclusion has been a fearful theme since childhood. All of my stuff has not been able to muffle the voice of 'avoid exclusion at all costs". I have sacrifices much in worship of inclusion....becasue I have not face my fear fully. Instead I'll shame others or pretend it doesn't matter when it does. Healing is comeing....slow.

Good writing again John. You risk "going first" and then get the responces. good is easy to comment on a commentary it is hard to write the commentary and put ones thoughts out there first. Keep going and I'll keep reading.


freeman said...

Like Steph, I think it's time we accost you in Applebee's (or is that seebelppa's, since we're seeing things sorta backwards). I smiled when I repeated aloud dad's words with his accent.
Life's not fair but most of it is a bonus. That's the positive I picked up from the old man after he told the story about his side of the concentration camp group not being chosen to board the trains for the East to work for the nazis. He had to figure that a good life was a longshot back then. He no doubt walked around complaining about things later but he seemed to have this contented knowledge that to even have a life with children was better than he ever imagined he'd experienced (course there were days he probably wished he could send us off on trains to do some hard labor!)

Average is a notion that's only true from a distance. Get up close and the blur becomes sharp, the blend focus and the stereotypes lose their shape. those of us around you only see average in you when we're talking batting average or bowling. Our view of injustices are real and sometimes hurtful, but they're part of living long enough adn well enough to see that compared to the bonuses that come along for the ride, life's pretty great.

Feel as if I sound like a big brother....oh yeah, I am. :-)

PS: great picture of the Olympics and the UPS boots. gotta believe that kind of picture on a UPS job site might work as a pretty good promo for built in job bennies.

See ya next week. Dinner monday?

Steph said...


We're ready for the next one!!!

What the hell? My word verification looks like it's in that stupid Wingding font or something. I'm sure I'll fail it at least once.