Deserved / Undeserved

If you must only subscribe to one rule in life, "Don't be a jerk" would be a worthy rule. It is a catch all that covers a wide array of sins. Living by the jerk-less mantra would lead to healthier relationships between parents and children, stronger romances between lovers, happier neighbors, lasting valuable friendships, more satisfying employment. Society in general would benefit.

Revelers would not riot after their favorite team won a championship game. Disenchanted populations would not protest (and most likely would not feel disenchanted). Mass shootings would not occur. Racial violence would never be an issue. Political bodies would have productive discourse and they might actually accomplish something worthwhile.

That only happens if everyone aspires to the same goal. Such utopic dreams are only possible if everyone agrees that kindness and justice and faithfulness are more beneficial than power and greed.

Unfortunately, charity and goodwill are not attributes that can be legislated. Governments cannot force its citizens to be pleasant and happy people. No law on earth can compel anyone to act in the interests of others above their own self interest.

As much as I believe generosity and compassion contribute to a better way of living, there is nothing illegal about the opposite. It is perfectly legal to be a scumbag. In this world, there exist law-abiding bigots. There are rude and arrogant people who have never committed a crime.

There are also well-intentioned people who pursue kindness yet screw up and inadvertently come across like a jerk. Everyone makes mistakes.

Where the law has punishments, there are natural consequences for being a jerk. Broken relationships. Failing finances. Ostracization. Overcompensation. A lifetime of regrets. These results often work slow and unseen giving rise to the illusion that the morally corrupt get everything they want while the righteous and innocent suffer.

That is difficult for people like me. I have an over-inflated sense of justice. I want to see people get what they deserve. I enjoy being an agent of instant karma. One of my favorite words is "schadenfreude." However, I will be the first to admit such perspective is not the best method of living life. I could demonstrate more grace (which I do so much more now than I used to). It is a process and change takes time.

Sure, I would love to see victims triumph over their bullies. I would love to see Donald Trump spend half of his fortune on a hopeless presidential campaign. I would love to see dishonest news channels lose viewers and ratings. I would love to see the most haughty athletes, musicians, and actors be humbled. All of which leaves lives in tact. Those are damages which could be repaired.

Somethings cannot be fixed. There are retributions which leave scars of both the literal and figurative variety. Lives have been lost or fractured over the most petty offenses.

Let me be clear, no one deserves to be physically injured for their lack of kindness. No one deserves to be shot for being a pain in the ass. Acting petulant is not a capital crime. No one should ever be killed or wounded for being a jerk.

It is time we stop victim-shaming. It is time we stop sympathizing with people who abuse their power at the expense of others. If a child, student, subordinate, or random citizen is defiant or non-compliant of the request of a person in authority, it is the responsibility of the authority to deescalate the situation - something that is never accomplished through violence.

Whether you are the sheriffs deputy that detained and harassed a couple of kids as if they were drug dealers because they made a joke about Nickleback, a security guard that maced peaceful protesters, a campus resource officer that aggressively wrestled a stubborn kid out of her desk, or a billionaire using your twitter feed to taunt and belittle anyone you think is a loser or hater, you are not solving anything. You are only making matters worse.

If we want a better society, the people best suited to make a positive change are the people with power. We need selfless political leaders. We need good cops to outshine the bad ones. We need parents, teachers, pastors, corporate CEOs, and entertainers who will lead by example. Those with power and authority should rise above expectations and be a catalyst for healing. They need to stop being jerks.

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