I'm not a religious person. Yet, since I do have a child to raise and she asks a LOT of questions, I have had to put my spiritual beliefs into an easy-to-understand paragraph for her.
I told her that I have what I call the cup theory. It is basically this: imagine two plain white coffee cups. Now imagine that one is filled with good deeds and the other with bad ones. It is our job as humans to make sure that the good deed cup is always heftier than the bad deeds one.
So, what exactly is a good deed? Yes, she has actually asked me this. I told her that it can basically be anything that you do for another that is intrinsically kind. If you open a door for someone, that is a good deed. If you give someone a sincere compliment, a good deed. I have told Liv that her school's devotion and kindnesses to an old woman who lives next door to the school building are big good deeds. Giving someone a kidney would be like worth twenty seven good deed points. Saving someone's life, a hundred and seventy three. But, small good deeds add up. If you play with someone who is often left out, that is worth a few points, but they add up. If you share your toys, another good deed.
But, there is a catch. You can't brag about the good deeds or they don't count. You don't have to hide your light under a bushel basket to have it count, but you can't be a braggart either. There is nothing more annoying than someone who does good deeds and insists on announcing them to the rest of us. And you know who you are.
On the other hand, bad deeds count too. If you make fun of someone in a malicious way, that counts. If you steal even a quarter it counts. If you talk about someone behind their back, ditto. And there are big bad deeds such as hurting children, being a bigot, stealing cars and withholding love.
Who counts the good and bad deeds? (Not much gets by my Liv.) We do. There are very few people who do not know the difference between right and wrong. There are exceptions to every rule and some of us are not lucky enough to be raised by people who teach us, but we can also learn from society, from watching others and by knowing what hurts us and not doing it to others.
Liv knows that I try to be a good cup slam dunker, but she also knows that I am human and therefore, fail at times. I've told her that being sorry for something you've done and trying to make it right counts as a good deed and counts to cancel out the bad deed.
What are some things that you are sorry for?
Too many to name. But here are a few examples:
1) I'm sorry that I get sarcastic with Bing when I am in a bad mood. I can be very snide and a bit smug. It is something that I pretty much detest in others. This is often a big warning sign that it might be something that you are prone to do.
2)I'm sorry that on more than one occasion I have yelled at Socks when he was underfoot. He can't help it that he wants to be anywhere that I am but I can use some self control and not bleat at him to "please get the hell out of my way."
3) I'm sorry that sometimes I just get tired of being a mom and yell at Liv because she forgot to make her bad. I don't need to screech like a banshee.
Now, I'm not advocating that we all act like saints. Frankly, the people that I tend to like the best are usually kind of upstarts, those who know how to hold their ground and be a bitch when necessary. Defending yourself against ignorant people is not a good deed, but it is certainly not a bad one either. It is just a human reaction and sometimes has to be done. And if you can do it with a little fire, I am all for it.
For example, being tolerant, being patient and being kind does not mean that you can't call an asshole an asshole. The other day, I was in a grocery store and as I eyed the meat in the butcher section, an older gentleman gave me a dirty look and commented to his wife that "there is another one of those democrats who are going to make sure that this nation goes to hell in a handbasket." At first, I had no fracking idea how he knew that I was a democrat (was it my hair, my stance, what already?) until I realized that I had inadvertently left the Obama button on my coat that Liv had pinned there when we went to all the political rallies in Iowa. I'm not sure if I am an Obama supporter or not, still lots more research to do, but I did give him the stink eye right back and say, "Well, good lord, I think my dog could do a better job than the current republican in the white house..."
Now, if I had strode over and stomped on his big stupid ass foot, that would have been a bad deed. If I had bitch slapped his wife who pursed her lips at me and wrinkled her overly made up nose in this unusually prissy way, that would have been a bad deed too.
You can call it paying it forward or building brownie points houses or whatever you please, I call it keeping that good deed cup more full than the bad deed one.
What happens when you die if you have put more bad deeds in the cup than good deeds?
There are these big creepy dead people who come and drag you to hell, which is full of fire and pain and the whole place smells like farts and sour burps and dead skunks. You just have to sit there and peel potatoes for Satan's dinner all day and night.
Oh, wait...that was my mother talking....
No. The truth is that I think you just have to sit on the other side knowing that you made some really bad choices and then maybe, just maybe, you get to come back and try again and this time maybe do better.
Liv told my sister about my cup theory once. She gave me a condescending look and said, "Well, your mother is of the Star Wars generation, I see..."
This from a woman who refuses to go out at night because she is very sure that "the darkies are just waiting to rob those of us who work hard for our money." And yes, I DID snort and say, "Did you just fucking say the word darkies? Good hell, isn't it time for you to go make a dress out of curtains, Scarlett?"
You just have to trust, you know? You just have to trust that there are enough of us out there, good muslims, jews, christians, atheists, agnostics, wiccans, buddhists, hindus and druids...enough people, democrats, republicans, independents, socialists, you name it, who believe in keeping that good deed cup full.
Call me naive but I choose to believe that it happens daily.
And my name ain't Pollyanna either......