Sunday, March 30, 2008

the money will roll right in

The $ first annual morethangalenandmiles writing contest $ begins today. I'll be posting two numbered entries each day until the first round is done. all the contestants + me get to vote afterwards and then the next round starts.

Round 1, Fight

1) Why Bad Things Happen To Good People

Life's not fair. A sentiment most people believe in. Why did my grandpa die of cancer? Why did my friend get hurt in a car wreck? Why was that girl just messing with me? Why does my school/job suck?

Life's not fair. That's what we think.

What is fair anyways? The dictionary says it is "free from bias".

In a perfect world good things would always happen to good people and bad things would always happen to bad people. Sounds right, right? Unfortunately that would be about the most unfair and selfish thing that you could wish for.

Why do you hold doors open for strangers? Why do you write your mom a birthday card? Why do you complement a friend? You aren't guaranteed anything tangible for doing so. Who's to say that stranger doesn't make a sarcastic remark, your mom doesn't appreciate the card, your friend doesn't make fun of you. You do it anyways, not for yourself but for the betterment of someone else.

But what if we lived in that perfect world. That stranger, your mom, and your friend aren't rude to you. They avoid something bad happening to them and you are rewarded for doing good. Sounds good right? But this is where things get muddy.

Have you ever seen a trained dog? Like the one's you see at county fairs or half time shows of sporting events. They can do just about anything from catching frisbees to backflips. What happens after every trick? They get a dog treat. How is that much different from the perfect world mentioned above? Do good, receive good. Do bad, receive bad.

If that was the case how could we ever trust anyone's motivations, including ourselves. If good was always rewarded and bad always punished what would we be left with? A world full of selfishness and artifice? A world full of dogs looking for treats?

Maybe that stranger didn't deserve your politeness, maybe your mom was a bad parent, maybe your friend wasn't really your friend, but you still did it anyway with no conditions or bias. You did it because sometimes good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.

You did it because life is fair.

2) The shitty apartment in the L.A. sun—the cracked linoleum, the dust, the scum spreading from corners out to the walls, to the air, unchecked, all blaring in Technicolor—was crueler than squalor in shade. But, he had never lived in squalor before L.A., and he was hardly living now. Down 60 pounds from his usual 170 (he was always slight in his family’s chunky, meat-head lineup), he struggled to breathe in the rancid air and a small part of him, an iota of misplaced rationality, was glad—relieved, even—that he had blocked out the searing light weeks before, just before he stopped going out, stopped delivering flowers, stopped altogether.

But, he wasn’t, when he twisted the white plastic tube dangling by the one dirty window and reduced the sun to slits, keeping out the sun. He was armoring himself against prying eyes and against the little black lines in their scopes—but the private investigator his mother had hired was still on the east coast, and the voodoo doctor in Nicaragua, his old blue jacket in hand, had impaled Oklahoma with a pushpin. There was no one else.

The sunshine crept in when they opened the door and snipped the rusting chain. It crawled back to illuminate the mess, the papers, the rat droppings, it crept in to jeer at its vanquisher. But, for so long he had been gone.


Anonymous said...


eat shit and die said...

people do things for selfish reasons, not for other people. charity only exists when it's anonymous. opening a door for someone is no better than the smile you give them afterwards to acknowledge your presence and how good of a person you are.