A couple years back there was a kid in the news who had cancer and the make a wish foundation was denying his wish because it was something dangerous – I don’t remember what, maybe one of those wingsuit things. They public outcry was such that the make a wish people caved and did whatever it was for the kid. And then the media breathlessly reported that the cancer had gone into remission – the implication being of course that it was because of the wingsuit (or whatever). What didn’t get much media coverage is the fact that two years later he was hit by a bus and killed. People that were aware of it often said something like “wow, he didn’t deserve that”. Which is a weird thing to say.
My theory is that no one deserves anything, but I have a tendency to think too literally about things and stifle conversation. I try not to be one of those people who resort to “Well nothing really matters” all the time but it’s usually what I think. But I will admit that while morally (or whatever) no one deserves anything there are certainly systems in which things are deserved. If you break the law you deserve whatever the proscribed punishment is. If you sell the required amount of widgets you deserve whatever reward is documented in the employee manual. If you put mayonnaise on a deli sandwich that shouldn’t have mayonnaise on it when you’re on a first date with me you deserve not to have a second date (actually what you deserve is many more dates with me as punishment but I’m trying to reign in my self-hatred for you good folks – I hope you appreciate it!).
In my philosophy class at Iowa STATE University (jealous?) one time the instructor said that everyone deserves to have a good job. And I says to her I says “What? Why? Most people aren’t capable of doing anything. Some of them put mayonnaise on the wrong sandwiches.” And she went on to add so many qualifiers that the statement no longer meant anything. Which is how that usually works. Deserve is like fairness (and honor and justice) it’s like a thing people thing is cool but they don’t really know what it is – like me and samba music. I think what she probably meant is that everyone should have equal opportunity – sort of, with lots of qualifiers. Basically that people should be treated fairly, which means nothing.
I remember having a major “thing” once with a co-worker because they said that everyone literally should have the same opportunities. Which is nonsense. I should not be allowed to be a doctor because I don’t know how. I should not represent the USA in the Olympics because I am not a great pole vaulter. I remember saying this his person “A person with no hands can’t be a hand model” and they got VERY upset and shouted, for real not when people say that someone shouted when they merely disagreed with them, “YES THEY CAN!!!”
Sidenote often I wonder why I bother talking to anyone – there seems to be very little common ground. I guess it’s just fun to talk.
People generally agree that everyone should have a fair chance, that they deserve the same opportunity, but then they do everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen. Because emotions. There aren’t a lot of people who really willing to sacrifice much. I am a single man in a small house. But do I deserve it? Not really. A family of four should be living here and I should be in a tar-paper shack. Am I going to give my house away? Hell no. And how did I get this house? Because my parents, who are good and honest folk who are liberal hippie snowflakes did everything they could to make sure that I had every advantage I could. They believe in fairness, they believe people deserve a chance, but they’re not going to choose some stranger over me. That would be insane. It’s a fun little kind of dissociative disorder – people (generally) believe in fairness and doing the right thing, but you know, for other people.
One time in the Fellowship of the Rings (did I mention that last time too? NERD!) Frodo was all like “I wish Gollum was dead, he’s stupid!” and Gandalf was all like “Maybe, but until you can bring people back from the dead who are you to decide who deserves what?” That seems about right. If you have the Reality Gem (last I heard it was in the hands of a reporter for Ms. Magazine) then you can probably decide what people deserve because you can give it to them and then take it back if you make a mistake. In the bible there’s a passage about how everything is random so there’s no reason to try. I think the idea was to point out that we’re all equal in the eyes of God but the message was kind of lost. One time in the movie Joker the titular Joker shoots Robert DeNiro in the face as part of the punchline “You get what you deserve.” In one of my favorite movies Unforgiven the Kid is having some emotional turmoil on account of he murdered a dude and he says to Will Munny “I guess they had it coming.” And Will says to him “We all have it coming kid.” What do these things have to do with anything? Dunno.
Anyway, let’s get to the question – do we deserve something nice? Sure. In the sense that literally you deserve whatever you have, because you have it. Morally? Also, why not – you never killed anyone right? And if you did they probably deserved it.
Now let’s keep talking, and by talking I mean me talking at you. There’s a commercial on the TV now where a sexy overweight lady is dancing around in her underwear. And the graphics on the screen tell you that you deserve to eat ice cream and that dieting and working out are for stupid gross morons. At the end of the commercial an old lady looks at the sexy overweight dancing lady through the window and she (the sexy lady) looks at her as if to say “Yeah, fuck you old bitch!” I’ve been thinking a lot about this commercial. But then I realized I shouldn’t because it’s a commercial – they’re not really trying to make a statement about anything other than “BUY ICE CREAM!!!”
And then a horrible person like me would think, “that kid shouldn’t have gotten the dangerous wingsuit because he wasn’t actually at death’s door. “
Well, not at CANCER death’s door. I guess he was at the death’s door of fate.