Friday, February 03, 2006

I'm Okay, You are DEFINITELY Not!

Alright, so the subject of this entry harkens back to a title that only a few of us (at least those of us on the Internet who can read) remember. One of those indispensable self-help books, "I'm Okay, You're Okay." You'd think, with the bookstore shelves stocked full of such wisdom that, by now, we'd all be okay. Well, as I've stated, I am. I'm so okay, in fact, that if anything's wrong with the world it's clearly not my fault. If only the rest of you could catch up to me, be like me, think like me, act like me -- well, I'm sure we'd all be living in Paradise.

Unfortunately, I don't believe a word of what I said above. I probably should've forked out the five bucks for that book. The sad truth is, however, that though most wouldn't say it out loud, most of us do seem to act as if the world would be a much better place if only those so and sos would/could behave better (read: "more like us.") And I find it fascinating that with all the so and sos out there (we know there are millions) no one I ever talk to stakes claim to being one of them. I haven't spoken with millions of people but I find the odds amazing -- with so much crime, deceit, dishonesty and disloyalty in the world -- it's apparently coming from anyone and everyone unless I happen to know them or am engaged in conversation with them.

I found myself in a heated discussion some time back about the subject of lying. Whoever sat opposite me was making an argument that lying, per se, wasn't a bad thing. My response was, "sure, the lies we tell are just fine, it's the lies that are told to us that suck."

I suppose I spend too much time thinking about this stuff. With so much porn and genital enhancement available on the Internet, you'd think I'd have better things to do. But, no. I find it stunning that in our own rationalized lives we get to behave badly but have absolutely no problem bemoaning the very same behavior when it's done by others. Could someone explain to me how that works?

We lie to friends, lovers, husbands and wives. We ask our friends to "lemme have a copy of that software, I don't wanna buy it." We download music that we don't pay for. We take a few office supplies home from the office, make a long distance call or two on someone else's dime.

But dammit -- we catch Clinton, Bush (or any other of our marvelous leaders) in a lie and it's national news. Outrage is expressed by the opposing team, defended by the loyal. We shake our heads at the greed and corporate corruption of the Enrons, Worldcoms and the evil Martha Stewarts of the world. We're outraged at how rude some people can be, making promises and breaking them; swearing to return phone calls and never doing so. The list goes on. Those damn so and sos.

Personally, I find it very difficult to walk away with extra change in my pocket, given to me by a failed math student working as a cashier, only to come home and burst into a rage when I find my house or car broken into and pilfered. I can't quite work up a storm of indignation about being lied to if and when I have to consider the lies I've told. And, trust me, I love to work up to self-righteous indignation. But do I (or does anyone else) really have a leg to stand on? Is it really a matter of degree? Or does it come back to "yeah, my b.s. is okay, yours isn't."

When I get into heated discussions with friends (well, they're friends until the end of that evening) they tend to get very frustrated with me. They're upset that I won't put on a team cap, a rationalized "us and them" mentality where I find bad behavior acceptable if it's done for "our side." And I'm not talking about self-defense or survival, just every day behavior.

I'm sorry, I just can't believe the world could or should or will be anything that I can't be. If I cannot hold myself to task why should I expect that anyone else can? It's not reasonable. In fact, given that I'm not a complete mental incompetent (some who know me would argue) if I make no concerted effort to act and behave the way I need and expect others to -- would it not be completely foolhearty to think that others will or should? How, in any way, is it reasonable to expect more than I can deliver?

It isn't all bleak, however. Fortunately, I can rationalize along with the best of them when it comes to myself. And I feel much better now. So everytime I behave badly, do something petty, disloyal, thoughtless or mean, I can put my mind to rest, get myself off the hook. Tell myself that, "it's cool." I'm a good guy. When I slip up, behave like a so and so, I've got a good reason, I can explain. But you -- you -- You're the damn problem! Shape up.