On Being Human

Talked to an old friend yesterday. We hadn't spoken for almost 2 yrs. No particular reason. Life took over and we lost touch. The last time we spoke he told me his wife had quit her job as a restaurant manager and was very happy to be home, fixing up their house, shopping, cooking, doing things she never had time to do when working. Two years later, she is still at home. The house is now fixed up. There are no children, and she has no other responsibilities. When I asked my friend what his wife does with her days, he told me she enjoys working out, watching TV, and she plays a lot of Angry Birds.

My mother-in-law lost her husband of 53 yrs a couple years back, a year after they closed the small business they had together for almost as long. With no business to maintain, no kids to care for, and only sparse time with grown grandchildren, I assumed she'd would find her niche in volunteering, perhaps invest time into her community, teach literacy at her local library or maybe the hospice her husband spent most of his last days in. I don't like sick people, she told me upon inquiry. And she has no interest in teaching, anyone, anything, she insisted, clearly annoyed at my suggestions. I've worked my whole life. It's my turn to do what I want. What does she do all day? Plays Solitaire, or goes to plays and movies with friends and family, when they're available, which isn't often. Most elderly folks she knows are helping their kids with the grandkids, or volunteering.

On the phone with my old friend, I intimated his wife was wasting her life. A talented professional, she has too much to give to waste time with Angry Birds, I insisted. But my friend disagreed. She enjoys her days now, no longer under constant pressure to preform, he informed me. She's allowed to relax, after working most of her life. She's 45 yrs old, I countered. And has been relaxing for almost 4 yrs now. So? He was perturbed by my observation. They don't need her income. He makes enough to support them both, so no harm, right?

Wrong.

We are ALL born owing humanity for the life we have. Without those who worked hard before us, there would be no humanity at all. My mother-in-law, my friend's wife, you or I wouldn't exist without the hard work of those before us. From our laws to the lightbulb, we stand on the shoulders of those who contributed to the human race that provide us with the life we now enjoy.

Our system that seemingly runs itself--doesn't. We actually have to work at making it work. And playing Solitaire or Angry Birds does nothing for our society. It's selfish and lazy. Everyday we are alive we owe each other and those who will follow us. We are ALL responsible to make the world better. Whether fighting for a worthy cause we believe in, or inventing technology to make our lives more productive, or managing a restaurant or small business, we must continually contribute to humanity for our race to survive.

Life did not begin, nor does it end with my friend's wife, or my mother-in-law, or the tens of thousands out there wasting enormous amounts of time playing with themselves. Lazy, selfish behavior must be compensated for by those who see beyond their own narcissistic desires, putting the burden of humanities survival on the few, instead of us ALL, which is where it must be for our race to thrive.

5 comments:

Donna McBroom-Theriot said...

You have been quite honest in expressing your opinion - even when it wasn't wanted. Made me laugh a little. I, however, disagree with you. I love a good discussion. I quit work 14 years ago when I married my husband. I am now 54. I do and have done volunteer work, but not all day long and not everyday. I enjoy my relaxing days. I like to play with my dogs, read a good book, play words, and write. My husband likes it that I am home and at a moment's notice can accompany him on errands or fix lunch when he happens to be near home. I do not feel that I am lazy or selfish in my behavior. Our home is clean, and I enjoy my solitude. People can be very annoying. That is what I find selfish. I know some who are out there "doing their thing" and are about as sincere as the door knob. They walk over people in their quest to "help" and "evangelize" because they are trying desperately to fill a void in their lives. It's all about them. I just think a good balance is needed. That's my two cents! Great post. I hope there is a lot more discussion.

J. Cafesin said...

Thanks, Donna! I do like sharing ideas too, which is why I blog! And it sounds like you DO contribute, and are not sitting around all day watching TV or playing Angry Birds. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Just to follow up on Donna's comment, it is a question of doing nothing, except for yourself, versus something for others. And it is true that some wear their contributions on their sleeve, but I suspect that most don't. I have my own story. I have a friend that made a ton of money from Apple stock, and retired, very young. I recall talking with him about how he spent his day. "Oh, I watched TV, and returned a CD." This went on for 15 years, until he spent it all. I didn't understand how he could live that way. And I wondered, if this was some form of insanity, that it is the human condition to need a challenge, that we evolved based on challenge, and without it, would not really live.

Anonymous said...

Boy. You're in trouble with your mom-in-law!

Anonymous said...

It seesms to be the case that the passionate few move things forward, and everyone else just follows along, at worst, some form of cannon fodder, at best, playing "Angry Birds".