Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Realistically Speaking

There aren't too many things promised to us.

Offhand, I can think of pain and death. I'd add "change" in there on a conditional basis. All of the other things, the inalienable rights that we Americans cling to are only "rights" as long as we're powerful enough to defend them.

Yet, most of the time, we fool ourselves into believing we deserve certain things, or, more accurately, that we have a right to them. Sometimes those things are obviously temporary, like homes, cars and clothes, other times they are more nebulous, like love or happiness. How many relationships and marriages collapse because people believe they are "owed" happiness, only to find out that their partner can't pay the debt?

Realistically speaking, (y'all like how I threw that in there?) life is a constant compromise between our expectations and reality. This does not mean I endorse settling for anything, it's just that I feel that assuming that out-sized expectations are a "right" is just as dangerous as having no standards at all. In my life, I'm learning to reevaluate my expectations, to truly consider which ones are must haves and which ones are disposable.

Each of us has the power to create our own reality to a certain extent, but most of us lack the power to project that reality on to others. Without that power, we truly have very few "rights" because we lack the ability to force others to acknowledge our rights. Our realities are actually quite dependent on other people allowing them to exist.

Realistically speaking, that is.

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1 comment:

LisaMJ said...

You are right. I grapple with this too. I've been thinking a lot about privilege lately, partly from thinking about white privilege, and then onto the privileges I have as an American, in the 21st century, with a good education and middle class status, and how much we all take these things for granted and expect to be owed the "right" to "happiness" or to material things. I wonder if it is an American disease, a Westerners disease or if everyone does it.

Raving Black Lunatic