What do I deserve? I ask myself that question but I haven’t come up with an answer. There are a few things that I feel I’m reasonably entitled to. But, if I didn’t receive them, would being deserving of them make any difference? I doubt it.
If anything, I’m probably doing quite a bit better than I actually deserve. It’s easy to get philosophical about what one “deserves” but it’s a moot point in the end. If I don’t get what I think I deserve does that make me a victim? I don’t like the idea of that. The dictionary lists “loser” as a synonym for victim. After all, if you’re a victim something has been taken or withheld from you.
There’s another question I ask myself: Does a bear deserve a trout from the stream?
That question always changes the direction of my thinking. “Deserve” is a man-made idea. While our society is expected to operate from certain boundaries and guidelines, we all know that sometimes we find ourselves on the wrong end of the cracks and flaws of those perceived rules and expectations.
It’s not a concept that is exclusive to losing something. Many new entrepreneurs battle a sense of guilt for charging money for their products or services. They feel they’re not worthy and are undeserving of other people’s earnings. More extreme is survivor’s guilt, when a person doesn’t feel that they deserve something that has been taken or withheld from someone else.
Even more confusing is throwing in the concept of “fair.” A quick search of the definition of “fair” will result in something to the effect of “without bias,” or “just.” That’s not how the word “fair” has been thrown around in recent years. It has been used as a synonym for “equal” by the media and internet trolls. But “fair” isn’t equal at all. If someone works harder for something they may be more likely to experience greater benefits from their efforts. That is the opposite of equal.
Does someone with no ambition, no will, and no work ethic deserve equal portions of all that’s gained by those that contribute more effort? We know they don’t. But do I deserve money and attention for putting in the effort of recording music or writing posts about confusing philosophy? Ultimately it doesn’t matter if I do or not. “Deserve” is an idea. It’s not an action. Collecting what you deserve takes action just the same as collecting what you don’t.
The bear doesn’t deserve the trout from the stream any more than the trout deserves to be eaten by the bear. For both, their fates started and ended with a series of actions.
A Southern Gentleman's Journal