Saturday, September 10, 2011

Guest Blog: What’s a better song, "Everlasting Love" by Gloria Estefan or "Got to Give it Up (Pt. 1)" by Marvin Gaye?

Lots going on in Portland. Job changes, guerrilla warfare by a neighbor, bike trips... but unfortunately, no blogging. Updates to come, but for now, a guest blog that is long overdue.


Guest Blog: What’s a better song, "Everlasting Love" by Gloria Estefan or "Got to Give it Up (Pt. 1)" by Marvin Gaye?

I work for a big, heartless corporation now and have worked for several others in the past. I have also spent time working in government run offices and laboratories. I like seeing how decisions are made in each of these settings. The big, heartless corporation has plenty of faults and is a machine of exploitation for resources natural or human. However, I actually enjoy watching something like this make decisions. It is a shrewd and calculating model of efficiency. If something isn’t working, drop it like a ton of bricks, ask critical questions and reorganize it better to get to a solution. I will enjoy and observe this corporate decision making process with awe until it is used against me to send my job to a more economical place while it leaves me in the dust. The government run settings I was in were quite different in their pacing to solve an issue and they were less effective in my opinion. The status quo was always the mode of the day.

The above paragraph may not have needed to be written because this post is about something else. Human issues and decisions about relationships can never be directly compared to corporate decisions, such as how to squeeze an extra three cents out of a Whopper value meal, ED prevention pill or a computer chip. Yet I often fall into that simplistic logic because it gives me a consistent way to approach and solve a problem I might have. And if those that read this can acknowledge that any sort of logic system may illuminate but will ultimately fail against the idea of a relationship and the concept of unconditional love, the rest of my confusion below may be more understandable.

When is it OK to give up on someone who is important to you? Why is love offered unconditionally to certain people? And I am talking about those who are really important, such as a spouse or a parent. If your dad killed orphans AND those cute endangered slow lorises on a daily basis (youtube those little guys), is it OK to stop loving him? I get the idea of love. I do not understand why it is unconditional.

Let me offer this hypothetical scenario:

My mother is 56 years old and 295 lbs. Her obesity, short and long term depression, inattention to her serious medical issues and abject poverty did not happen by accident. They had their origins in the decades of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of my father. After their divorce a few years ago, her personal test to be on her own was met with a lack of initiative and effort on her part. Yes, she was a victim but when she had her freedom she did not offer even a glimmer of her own effort to change her destiny. At some point, and my three oldest siblings would agree, all of the above made my mom want to die. She has been living and hoping for this for the last few years. And to further fill the reader in, she has further proved this by giving away her guardianship of my youngest brother a few months ago- making him temporarily homeless - as well as weakly attempting suicide just this Monday.

Let’s say the above paragraph is accurate and a fair interpretation of my mother. If someone wants to die- really, truly wants to die- there is nothing anyone else can do to stop her. Most people- perhaps those who are more caring than I- would still do what they can to help their mother. They would still take off of work to drive her home from the mental hospital. They would still give her money so she can buy groceries. That is not what I am doing. From what I have seen and known about her situation, I have decided and behaved in the manner of a big, heartless corporation. I have discontinued that product line of Cal’s Unyielding Love for his mother because one of its love widgets is defective.

This is where you, the reader, may lose compassion for me. It is a shrewd and too-logical choice. You should know that I have offered plenty of love in the past to her. I sincerely did. I made this decision now because I have learned over many years that no matter what type of investment I put into this relationship, my return has never come. I could invest minutes on the phone, $750 on an emergency plane ticket home, $5000 for an operation to amputate her foot due to diabetes or simply just my emotions. No matter what I offer I will get nothing back. Those that know the situation would admit as much.

Would you invest in a stock that guaranteed a negative return on investment? Of course not. Would you spend resources – time, energy, emotions and money- on a toxic situation if you can spend it on one that would actually make a difference? I would hope not. That would be insanity. Why not spend the time, emotions and money in places where they can actually help? Why, oh why, should love be unconditional when the other person can’t ever offer the same to you?

For the record, I think Marvin Gaye’s song struck a deeper chord with me. He had a pretty good reason to give up on a loving relationship with his father.


The Hon. Oliver Wendell Holmes, III

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The big heartless corporation's decision making process is driven by the expectation of gaining a return on investments. Unconditional love, however, is not something that can be viewed in light of returns on investments. Unconditional love can really only be demonstrated when there is a complete lack of return on "investments," and its a higher plane of love and humanity that few of us will ever be able to really achieve and demonstrate. Mothers deserve to know that their children find some speck of humanity in them that is worth honoring in some manner, even mothers who are mentally ill, and even if they can't truly appreciate this. They are, after all, a big part of the reason you are who you are, however poor of a job they did in helping you succeed in life.