|Posted by Sue Badeau on September 6, 2022 at 2:05 PM|
Last week, I re-ignited my blog with part 1 of my reflections on the comments we often receive when posting pictures or travel tales from the road now that we live full-time in an RV. As I noted we often get two types of responses to our photos and posts over the last 2 years:
1. "Girrrrrrrl, you are SO lucky! You are living the dream! I am sooooooo jealous."
2. "Your trip looks awesome and you sooooo deserve it."
I shared my thoughts about "Living the Dream" https://www.suebadeau.com/apps/blog/show/50323120-not-there-yet-part-1-living-the-dream-" target="_blank">here and today I am going to share some thoughts about the “You Deserve it” comment.
Of course, when I hear someone say, “You deserve it,” especially followed by something like, “you’ve worked so hard all your life,” or “you’ve given so much to others,” I like to think and believe, “Yeah, darn right, I DO deserve it don’t I!”
There are other days, when I am more focused on my failures or general unworthiness, when my instinctual response is a little like the scene in the Wizard of Oz, when the curtain is pulled back and the Wizard is revealed as the powerless little man behind it. “NO!” I want to shout. I don’t deserve any of this.
The truth, as always, is much more complex.
You see, if we start to believe that people who experience good things in life “deserve” these good things, then we have no choice but to believe that those who do NOT experience the same good things don’t deserve them. And by extension, those who experience hard, painful, tragic, or traumatic things deserve all of that.
I can’t and won’t go down that road.
I can’t and won’t believe that a child anywhere in the world, from Philadelphia to Kenya, ever deserves to go to sleep at night hungry or without a safe spot to lay their head.
I can’t and won’t believe that those who have safe water to drink every day, clean air to breathe, up to date textbooks in their schools and access to medical care are more deserving than those who have access to none of those things.
I can’t and won’t believe that the CEO of Amazon, no matter how brilliant and hardworking, is worth more than 6474 times as much as a regular person at Amazon who works incredibly hard to bring us our next-day Prime orders.
I can’t and won’t believe that what zip code you are born into, combined with your gender and skin color, makes you more deserving of a good, safe, happy, successful life than those born in a different place, with different characteristics or circumstances.
Or to make it more personal, I can’t and won’t believe that my son with a disability who has worked hard and faithfully at the same job for over 25 years still can’t afford even a one-bedroom apartment on his own while others with a less stellar work history can afford mansions and vacation villas.
What I DO believe is that every human being born on in this world deserves dignity, safety, love, compassion, and opportunity. That liberty and justice for ALL not only here in the U.S. but in every corner of the globe is a goal worth striving for.
And until we reach that goal – still so far in the distance as to appear as an impossible dream – I will not accept that I deserve the incredible benefits and privileges that have marked my life. Even despite the tragedies of losing 3 children, a grand and a great-grandchild. Even despite the significant trauma and on-going trauma repercussions my family faces every day. Even despite facing mental health, physical health, financial and other barriers, and challenges along the way. Even despite working hard and “giving back” every day.
I do not deserve more beauty or joy than a baby born today on a street in Kitale, or an inmate in a prison in Mississippi, or a terrified pregnant teenager in Indiana, or a 12-year-old in foster care crying himself to sleep tonight.
Each one of these unique and precious human beings also deserves to see the sunset on the ocean, or fields of flowers or ancient trees touching the sky.
I am “living the dream” as I wrote in my last blog. As hard as I did work for it, I don’t “deserve” it, but I am continuously grateful for this life, every day.
It is tempting to rest in the cocoon of believing I deserve it. But it is not truthful. So, whenever that feeling threatens to lull me into a self-satisfied stupor, here are a few steps I take to help create the kind of world where everyone has connection, belonging, safety, beauty and joy every day.
1. Give thanks. Soak up the goodness around me and be intentional and specific in my expressions of gratitude. Every day.
2. Learn. Be mindful of the injustices that create barriers for others to enjoy the same benefits I enjoy. Learn about trauma, learn about becoming an anti-racist, learn what it is like to live out your life as a transgender person, or a woman in a misogynistic culture or a person with a disability. Learn about the real-life conditions in cities and towns and workplaces throughout our nation and the world. Learn some today. Learn more tomorrow.
3. Ask and Act. When I learn more, do more. When I know better, do better. Ask with intention, every day, “What is one thing I can do today to lift up someone else?” OR “How can I bring a moment of beauty, joy, peace, or connection to someone who doesn’t have it today?” OR “How can I use my voice and privilege to tear down the structures that create trauma and harm and rebuild a new world where everyone is safe, connected and loved?” It might be a small, personal, under the radar act of kindness, or it might be a big, bold, risky, investment of time and resources. But never let a day go by without taking at least one action to make a difference.
4. Watch the sunset with someone you love. Fill and refill your own cup with beauty and hope and peace and connection so that you can start again tomorrow.
May your day be filled with peace, love and beauty. You DO deserve that!