Today we toss words around like a volleyball and as a result the words not only lose meaning but get turned inside out. The word “deserve” comes to mind because a young neighbor of ours just lost his mother suddenly and his father, who is divorced from the mother, is battling cancer. My wife said that no family deserves that much hardship. And while I agreed with her that such a burden was more than anyone can handle, I disagreed with the word “deserve.”
A very old word that once simply meant the benefits accord to someone who was worthy of them because of what they had done. Being deserving was not a trivial honor. It was a high form of “earned”recognition.
Today you might hear someone say that a young Boy Scout who was working in a soup kitchen did not deserve to have his bike stolen or the young rock star did not deserve such praise and adulation. In both cases the sense of deserving is purely subjective. We, in our often misguided ways, think we have a right to determine who should or should not be deserving.
Did the Wicked Witch of the East deserve to die when the housing market dropped? She was evil and if we are to believe the Munchkins, she ruled Munchkin Land as a cruel despot. So, did she get what she deserved? And did the Wicked Witch of the West get what she deserved by being melted away?
I believe in the demise of the Wicked Witches we are talking about our sense of justice which is “
In our daily and ordinary lives we often confuse deserving or not deserving of something with our sense of “fairness.” We don’t think it’s fair when someone we believe is good , and therefore deserving of good tidings, is stricken with cancer or suffers some tragedy. We also don’t think it’s fair when a rich and powerful person gets richer or more powerful…for no reason.
We need to forget about deserving and fairness in the human condition unless we can say justice has been abused. And when justice is abused we not only have the right, we have the obligation to fight to see that justice triumphs.
I think the worst thing we can do is bring in a “supernatural being” into the equation as if this “being” is the cause of or responsible for usually allowing bad things to happen. When we do this we minimize we make ourselves a pitiful victim of a whimsical god.
Bottom line? We should be advocates for justice (and mercy). And we should stop thinking we deserve anything just because. I don’t “deserve” to be treated fairly. I can’t be responsible for other people’s actions. I can only be responsible for the way I think and the way I act. I need to live each day being a positive force. I need to be kind and caring. I need to put others before me. But that does not mean I should not stand strong against injustice. That’s where I stand firm and say no one “deserves” to be the victim of injustice.