Saturday, March 31, 2007

"It's Just Not Fair"

I am the youngest of four children and the only girl in my family. Three older brothers who mostly shut me out of their boyish activities when we were growing up. My two oldest brothers lived in a bedroom in our basement and shared a bathroom down there. My parents, third brother and I slept on the first floor of our house and shared one bathroom between us.

Meal time was controlled chaos. If I didn't get my hands on the serving dishes early in the meal, there was a good chance that the best of the chicken or fish or roast would be gone. If I got to the breakfast table late, bacon, eggs, and grits would have to be scraped from the bottom of the pot in hopes of pulling together enough for a decent meal.

I learned to eat and enjoy what they didn't like. Things like liver and onions, chocolate ice cream, even liverwurst became staples for me because my brothers refused to eat the liver, the liverwurst, and would fight each other for the vanilla and strawberry ice cream, leaving the chocolate untouched. I ate the parts of the turkey and chicken that came in those little wax bags stuffed inside the raw carcass.

When my parents weren't at home, all control went out the window, and true chaos ensued. Food would be hoarded down in the basement room. I would scramble eggs that were already cracked in the carton and make toast from the two end slices of the loaf, the pieces no one else wanted. (To this day, I prefer those end pieces. My husband and children leave them for me.) I washed up the dishes they left in piles in the kitchen and then sat on the staircase outside their room hoping they would invite me in. Most times I went up to bed and drifted off to sleep having not spent even five minutes with my brothers in their subterranean hideout. Often the last words on my lips were, "It's just not fair." And it wasn't.

The whole food thing sounds pretty nasty now that I think about it.
It was.
My description makes my brothers seem like selfish fellows.
And in some ways they were.

Being the unrelentingly optimistic kid that I was, I learned to make the most of a difficult situation. Since I couldn't hang out with them, I walked to and from the library during the summer and fell in love with reading and classical music. I got sick of not understanding what my two oldest brothers were saying to each other in their rudimentary Spanish, so I began to study it as a 7th grader. I am convinced that many of my present day eating habits, my ease with traveling and being alone, my love of books, especially smelly old library books, and certainly my love for the Spanish language came because of the way I was treated as a child.

Have I ever related the story of why I'm no longer ticklish? It's because two of my brothers would hold me down and the third one would tickle me until I cried or wet my pants or both. I willed myself to stop laughing, and then they left me alone. Ta-da - no more tickles!

Who's the world traveling, healthy living, chocolate ice cream loving, completely bilingual one now, guys? Like the old adage says: "The best revenge is living well."

Last Sunday night at church, I heard this statistic: The United States is home to 5% of the world's population and consumes 50% of its resources. Staggering. Sobering. Disheartening. Disgusting. Inexplicable. Inexcusable.
It's just not fair.

All the while, we gorge ourselves to morbid obesity, try to figure out ways to keep outsiders out, speak in economic, environmental, religious, and political terms that much of the world cannot understand, and become enraged when the world repeatedly turns to us for help in its ongoing time of need - many of the very needs we have created because of our greed.
It's just not fair.

How many hungry, sick, wounded, and suffering men, women, and children will go to sleep tonight telling themselves, "It's just not fair"???

I often go to bed asking: Will the rest of the world ever get to live well? If they never do, then we'd better prepare ourselves for much more revenge yet to come.


nate said...

Thanks for these challenging words!

Nancy said...

It is encouraging that God uses even the unfair and all around bad things in life. It comforts me to know that nothing is wasted.