The Upside of the Downside

With a plethora of political posts (say that three times fast) that I find on Facebook, one thing has really jumped out at me and that is the pleasure people seem to glean from pointing out other people’s down turns.

One person in particular; a person I have had no face-to-face contact with in quite some time who on the surface appeared to be a very happy, life-loving, positive individual back in the day has now focused solely on pointing out the seeming down turns of a political party. 

This is not a blog about politics.  Rather it is a post about privilege.  Why is it so easy for us to point out and become gratified with the knowledge or even supposition that something might be going wrong for someone else?

I cannot remember a time, even with people I was not fond of – even with people I did not know, that I felt a sense of satisfaction or glee in the thought of their lives turning upside down.  When people commit horrible crimes, I pray they are caught.  When people go to jail, I pray they can turn their lives around and make some sense out of what they did and why.  Even when people are personally mean to me, I do not wish them harm.  At most I pray for their distance.  But I cannot remember a time that I reveled in the notion that something was going wrong for someone else. 

Is it that we cannot feel like winners until our adversaries are considered losers?  Better still – what makes them adversaries?  If I think about that for a minute, it occurs to me that I may have stumbled upon the great divide.  Winning vs losing. 

Winners have good jobs and nice house.  Others have jobs that appear to us to be less desirable.  Perhaps they have no job at all.  They make less money, have less money, and life is more than a struggle.  Does that make winners the “blessed” people?  The people whom life seems to award the brass ring.  They go on fabulous vacations, have tons of friends, successful family.  They have entitled themselves to live the American dream.  Others struggle.  They work in minimum wage jobs, may never take a vacation, have a simple existence, and appear to have to work three times as hard as everyone else to land at the bottom rung of the ladder.  Are they not blessed?

I’m no religious scholar, but I thought everyone was blessed.  Blessed does not happen to those who were born on the right day when the stars were aligned, or only to those who have an intact family structure.  Blessings are everywhere for everyone.  To imply anything else leads to conclude that some need to be privileged to feel happy; to feel blessed.  If we are not one up on someone else, does that mean we are not winning?

Winning is great.  But there should be a concern that accompanies others’ discourse, not glee.  And because some are in a better position than others, wouldn’t that imply that those others seemingly more fortunate should lend a hand to those who are not?

If you have read this blog, I would like you to spend the day examining how the misfortune of others makes you feel.  Look not at what is wrong with their picture as how could “I” make it better.  Misfortune is not cause to sit back, count your lucky stars and say there but for the grace of God go I.  It is an opportunity for you to say, if that were me, how could I turn things around?  Part B of that plan is to actually do something to help someone.  I do not mean step in and fix everything that is wrong in someone’s life.  I mean bring them joy.

Imagine arriving at the pearly gates of heaven and being questioned as to what you did with your life…and your response being , “Hey, I was really blessed.”  What if the next question is “So what did you do to bless others?”


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