Random ironies I’ve been thinking about:
The thing you most need to do when feeling lonely or depressed is the one thing that is hardest to do: call someone, reach out to another person. Taking that step requires more energy than I can muster in those moments.
Money makes money; the more money you have, the more you can accumulate. The system is unfair and conspires against those who don’t have it. I was struck by this, in a small way, when I went to the bank to get certified checks (bank checks?) for our closing the other day. As a perk of being a ‘privileged’ customer, I didn’t have to pay for the checks. There was a woman being served by the teller next to me who didn’t have a checking account and needed to get a bank check. She was charged – I think it was $5.00 per check. There’s an irony there. The person who could afford it wasn’t charged, the person who could least afford it was. I know why the bank does that, from a business perspective it makes sense. From an ethical perspective, perhaps another model would be better for society. What if bank customers with the financial wherewithal paid more for their services so that people with less resources paid less? Is that blasphemy in our capitalist economy?
Another example – a person with great credit and solid savings gets a low rate on a loan to buy a house. That person pays less for their house and can continue to save and build their financial resources. Another person, with a less strong credit history and less savings, gets a higher interest rate on their loan. They pay more and are likely to continue to struggle to make ends meet. What would happen if the system was reversed?
I can’t imagine the system changing given the vested interests in keeping it the way it is. And some might think it is fair the way it is – they may believe that the rich have earned their perks. I’m not so sure.
I think she was just trying to be helpful, but she wasn’t. A woman was explaining to me how she manages her diet. She limits her carb intake, loads up on fruits and vegetables, virtually eliminates fats and makes sure she gets her 10,000 steps daily. I was nodding along. She is rail thin, I am not. When new information comes out about diet and exercise, she incorporates it into her routine. I think she was sharing her approach in hopes that I would see the light. As if I didn’t know all of that stuff.
For some of us, eating is mostly about fueling our bodies. Gary is able to approach it that way. That’s not what eating is about for me. Hunger has little to do with it. It is about comfort, boredom, frustration, grief, and joy, too.
Maybe I’m being unfair in assuming that it is easy for the rail thin woman. Maybe she is working hard – actually, I’m sure she is. But, the discipline of regulating her eating comes more naturally. Perhaps it is another of life’s little ironies – those of us who most need to separate emotions from eating, have the hardest time doing it.
I came across a post on Facebook, from Julian Lennon, though I don’t think he wrote it himself:
Life is so ironic, it takes sadness to know what happiness is
Noise to appreciate silence and
Absence to value presence.
It seemed to fit with the way I’ve been looking at things lately.
6 thoughts on “Life’s Little Ironies”
You’re right. The Ted talk on unlimited growth, good or bad touches the first part of your blog. The rich get richer, but what about the others who are left behind. Is there a better way still rewards those that have worked for their success without penalizing others, It uses many examples, one of which involves the environment. But, what one can do when your feeling down and out” it is hard to reach out. Why trouble others, go for a walk, read a book, etc when it takes effort?hopefully you don’t have that many times in your life, and you know all life has hills and valleys and maybe it helps even if it’s temporary feelings.
You bring up so many interesting issues in this post but I will focus on its financial aspects. That part, it seems to me, really is about fairness. If a person works hard and gets ahead, isn’t that a good thing? And shouldn’t a person be able to enjoy the fruits of that work? On the other hand, some people get ahead because they were born rich or just got lucky. And many people work hard and never have a realistic shot at getting ahead. Not everybody is born in a land of opportunity and that surely includes some people born in the USA (not accidental).
Let’s take an example that you have brought up before. If you get ahead and can afford to send your child to a better school, should you not do that? But, if some other child doesn’t have a legitimate shot at a quality education, is that fair? Is that good for society? What is the lowest common denominator of what we owe everyone?
I think of the term Tzedakah which is often translated as charity but really is more about making the world more just, more fair. In Judaism, it is not just a good deed but a requirement in order to be a righteous person. I’m afraid I have more questions than answers but I appreciate the provocative blog post.
I read this post after I read the next post about Uncle David (he is always Uncle David to me). His father was a successful businessman, a capitalist. The soviets came in & took over his business. The socialists did this to make it “fair”. In reality, life isn’t fair. Some people are smarter, some people are bigger, some people are more talented and some people just work harder. Society can never bring someone up by knocking someone else down. Nobody has ever become wealthy or successful by getting the wealth from someone else.
Thanks, Stewart, for your comment. I always appreciate getting your perspective. I want to believe the last statement of your post, but I don’t think it is true. I think people do get wealthy by taking from others. That isn’t to say I’m not a capitalist – I am. I don’t believe in communism and wanted to share David’s family’s experience in part to reveal how ugly it was. I’m not even a socialist (well, maybe on some things like health care). I do think that capitalism is problematic – especially when we know that there is greed, prejudice and dishonesty in this world. I do agree that life isn’t fair and government can’t fix that (at least not all of it :)). Again, thanks for contributing to the conversation.
Linda, I have had the same observations you articulate in your piece and would love to discuss these with you one at a time when I next see you! Really enjoyed it.
Somehow I’m not surprised that you have shared some of the same thoughts – all these years of friendship, I knew we had something in common! Yes, let’s discuss!