Wednesday, April 14, 2010

the gilded edges on that rule are tarnished, sweetie

...reckless is eschewing rent and using your first paycheck to finance something in patent leather from prada that measures approximately 13" x 9".



so yesterday i got to thinking, and as history has shown, that can be a dangerous engagement. i realized something crazy about our little society that, despite the occasional flaws of corruptness or disparity, prides its virtuous existence on being founded and governed by the basic morals and ethics of humanity.

right.
because even cavemen galavanted up and down madison avenue ignoring the conditionally destitute but intrinsically equal homeless cavemen begging for rocks and sticks.

my crazy socioloical discovery goes something like this: we all live the golden rule without even realizing it. no childhood, no matter how traumatic or unusual the method of rearing, escaped regular infusion of the golden rule. "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." for many of us, it was the first time we heard the word "unto," intriguing for a first grader. it's a value. a code. a rule, and although anybody who's made it past the age of three knows that rules are meant to be broken, the golden rule is not one of them because we exercise and follow it every day, all day, and in every moment of our lives.

just think of how you normally treat others--if you're a kind person, you give without expected reciprocity, always doing favors and maintaining a somewhat regular sunny, positive disposition. you probably have a photograph of a flower on your computer desktop and if you pass a bakery you find yourself inclined to buy a "just because" cupcake for a friend. if you're a rotten person, you constantly judge others, acting from an invisible pedestal of entitlement. you make fun of homeless people. you don't give your roommate a quarter for laundry even though you have seven in your pocket right now. you operate your evil empire by some nefarious list of commandments kept valid by some equally arcane strength of contempt. and if someone walks into the office with their mentally disabled sibling in tow, you're the audacious one who actually laughs.

the "others" i refer to includes every other human being with whom you come into contact on a daily basis--individuals as random and unknown as fellow subway riders or as intimate as your sister. coworkers and wholefoods employees alike. the guy who bumped you while crossing the street and the lady who told you your shoe was untied. the only person i left out isn't the most obvious, but clearly the most important: yourself.
you have a chance to communicate with all of these people but you won't end up talking to most of them. you will, however, hold constant communion with yourself, from the moment you wake until your eyes start shaking with REM sleep, and as the day goes on, you deal with yourself just as you deal with other people. you contemplate decisions with yourself just as you do with a coworker. you discuss the sadness of a loved one's death with yourself just as you do with your sister. you love yourself just as you love your boyfriend and you hate yourself just as you hate your enemy. just because you can't hear the conversations that pass between you and yourself doesn't mean they don't occur.

i suddenly thought, "that makes a shit ton of sense. why wouldn't i extend to myself the same treatment and regard as i do others?"

i think we tend to overlook ourselves as the same weighty individuals as those we coexist with because that existence doesn't register with the same logic as someone separate from us who we can see and hear and interact with. strip the skin off us and we'd look the same as sally mae heathers across the aisle wearing those hideous purple mary janes. if we were computers, our systems would run on only one operating system just like the mac that brings you this very important message--there's not one OS to run your life and a separate OS to process everybody else. there's just one, and the set of instructions it contains that tells us how to act influences our behavior toward ourselves in the same way it directs our behavior toward others.

where it gets really crazy, though is when you consider the amount of harm you do to yourself compared with that you dole out to others. say today you are rotten to five different people: lydia at the duane reade, jamal at the whole foods, your mother, candace at your credit card company and some anonymous guy who caught your headphones cord on his mad dash out of the subway. motive aside, you judged lydia for being too slow, you laughed at jamal because he was wearing an eye patch, you told your mother to shut the fuck up because she was harassing you about finances, you told candace at bank of america to shove your overdraft fees up her ass after she's done fucking herself and the headphone cord guy escaped with his life and both testicles by the grace of the subway door that closed just in time. you splattered five people with negativity on five separate instances. your motivation for being mean isn't what's important here, it's simple mathematics. even though five completely unrelated people fell victim to your negativity, each one only suffered one hit.
and then there's you: every time you viewed yourself, asked yourself a question, weighed the options, caught a glimpse of yourself in a mirror, or reviewed something you had written, your perception was tainted with the same negativity you extended to everybody else, and you were just as rotten. this time, however, it's you taking all the hits, and considering how active the human brain is on a daily basis, there may have been thousands of them.
no wonder you're such a bitch.

we treat ourselves just as we treat others. it's the golden rule sans the one asset that forms the very core that deems it a virtue: free will.

then i realized how cyclic human behavior can be. when you're nice to others, you're nice to yourself which makes you happy which makes you nice to others which makes you nice to yourself which makes you happy...yeah. i get it.
but when you're rotten to others, you're rotten to yourself which only makes you feel even more rotten which makes you rotten to others again and back to being rotten to yourself and even though this insidious pattern keeps therapists in business, maybe it's time you planted a nice ficus tree in the junkyard of your mind and broke the cycle. my mama always said, "you'll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar," but that rule only holds true when you take to heart the bedazzled tenets rupaul extended at the conclusion of her short-lived but no less iconic vh1 show, "love yourself because if you can't love yourself, how the hayll you gonna love somebody else?" thanks.

xo
b.a.

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