Sunday, October 16, 2011

What shapes the bottom line?

October 15, 2011

Dear friends,

I agree. The quilt story was more interesting reading than the postscript.

So—here is a “do-over” or, rather, a “say-over.” Improvement (not perfection) hoped for.

I am unconvinced that the source of all objections to last week’s postscript result from writer-awkwardness, however. The fact is none of us are fond of the idea that the postscript contained, and would be displeased with the idea if John Updike himself wrote it. [Updike did, in fact, write an idea something like this in Rabbit and the people in his book didn’t like it either.] Whether found in Updike’s prose or in a rather pedestrian blog, criticism of the culturally endorsed idea of entitlement is not welcome. We want to be told that we are entitled to have our wants/and needs satisfied—and on our terms.

I set out last week to count the number of times I could find the idea “you deserve it” in some form in advertising slogans. It was so easy to find that I was bored by Tuesday, and gave up the project entirely on Wednesday. By Thursday, however, I had revised the question, and found the new question interesting. Thursday’s question ran: “Is the idea, ‘you deserve it’ ever used to suggest that some individuals at least deserve greater responsibility because of greater gifts? Greater obligation to share because of greater resources?

This question has continued to be an interesting one. Up to this point I have not discovered the idea of “you deserve it” used in any way other than encouragement to consume materials that were likely to require credit to purchase and whose value was likely to melt at the rate of ice at a summer picnic.

I wanted my postscript to the quilt story to raise two hard questions.

One: In people or in things, how do I respect and value characteristics and qualities that do not directly feed my personal sense of satisfaction?

Two: Does the idea “you deserve it” apply only to the getting process?

Thinking with you about the radical notion that what I give in relationships (including tolerance and mercy) may paradoxically serve me better in the end than the effort I invest in getting what I want/need.

See you next week.

Gay

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