We don’t make sense.
And I mean this in the most affectionate way possible… but we don’t.
We need only pause and reflect on things that we do regularly, out of habit or ‘tradition’, to come to the same conclusion. Now, I’m not knocking tradition… so long as it makes sense… but there are a healthy number of them which we can (and probably should) cease to observe. Or, at least change how we observe them.
Let’s look at some of life’s major events.
Birth seems like a good place to start. There are quite a few birthing positions to choose from, and since this is definitely not a one-size-fits-all kind of event, each mother and child may find one or another position easier for them to use. So, why do our doctors insist on using the only position on the list which includes no advantages and actually warns “avoid this position”? Now, granted, ‘standing on your head’ didn’t make the list, so there are potentially two positions which could warrant the same disclaimer.
According to Onnie Logan, who spent nearly the entire 1900s as a midwife, doctors were never really trained in birthing babies… they just decided to start doing it as a revenue generator, and felt that learning the trade from 1) women, 2) who had been doing it their entire lives, and 3) had learned a thing or two about what not to do, was beneath them and they’d just make it up as they went. And they’ve done just that. But, knowing what we do about labor and birth, why in the world do we continue to do it the exact wrong most difficult way possible, aside from standing on your head? Now, I’m willing to give doctors the benefit of the doubt and believe that they just don’t know any better… but many of us do. So, what’s our excuse? (And I’m not even going to go into the ‘why are we bringing vulnerable people into the world in the same place where the sick and dying gather?’)
Birthdays… you survived another year. Congratulations! I’m glad you did, really. But come on… it’s not like you ended starvation or developed an alternative energy source, and to be honest, your mom did most of the work getting you here (and keeping you here – ‘cause we all know what we were like growing up), so why is this day all about you? Let’s try to keep things in perspective… 1) you did not necessarily accomplish anything awesome (with a few exceptions), 2) this day is the direct result of someone else doing all the work (mom), 3) based on the current world population, approximately 18 million other people on the planet have the same birthday (almost 900,000 in the US alone)… it can’t really be ‘all about you’, 4) do people really need another unfounded reason to decide that the world revolves around them and to let the greed-monster loose? Whenever I begin to wonder where some of this ‘feeling of entitlement‘ comes from, I rarely have to wonder for long…
Ah, weddings. Now, there are admittedly a few exceptions to the standard, but when multiple industries (including reality-tv shows) are alive and well solely due to weddings, there has to be something nonsensical about it. First of all, what is a wedding? It’s a ceremony, sometimes coupled with a celebration of said ceremony. That’s an awesome, fairly uncomplicated, event. So, why then, out of 42 of the top life-stressors, is a wedding the 7th most stressful event of our lives? When did it become the quest for the most extravagant dress, cake, and reception possible (and by possible, I do mean ‘well beyond our means’)? …should I even ask why the brides are still wearing white? Somewhere along the way, we decided (even if not consciously) that driving everyone crazy, going broke, and that this new stage of your life should start out in a rage was definitely the way to go. Which kind of segues into…
“Partying” until it (nearly?) kills you. Most parties aren’t enjoyable any more. They’ve become a battle of survival alongside people you may/may not even want to be around. If you don’t believe me, let Google show you the many ‘how to survive a party’ guides that are available to you. God help you if you’re invited to one…
Death may be inevitable, but what happens after the fact, isn’t. Though, if you ask anyone who works in the estimated $15 billion-dollar-a-year industry, they might be of a different opinion. But, let me pose a question: do you believe that the body must be preserved so that it will be usable in the afterlife (like Egyptians) or that keeping a loved one around in a preserved state is a good/healthy thing to do (like Roy Rogers)? If your answer is “yes,” then keep on keepin’ on! (Though, we may want to discuss the retrievability of a preserved body that’s been barricaded into the ground…) If, on the other hand, your answer is “no,” then why on earth would you embalm someone before burying them? Or better yet, why return someone to the ground after pumping them full of embalming fluid to preserve their body, putting them inside of a container that won’t degrade, and then (in some cases) putting that container inside of a concrete barrier so that it’s even more protected? Our fear of wrinkles may be going a little too far… 😉 But in all seriousness… how does going to these lengths in order to preserve a body make sense, if you don’t think you’re going to use it again?
These are just a few examples of some of the more overarching activities we engage in that don’t make sense. I’m sure you can think of a few more, and I’d love to hear about them! But you may be asking yourself, “um, ok… so we don’t make sense. Way to point out the obvious there, Sherlock… do you have a point?” Why yes, yes I do. I’d like to throw down a challenge. A double-dog-dare, if you will. I want us to try utilizing the one thing that would help us all make more sense:
For this entire year (2012), I’d like to challenge each and every one of you to think about the things you tend to do automatically, then decide whether or not you think it makes sense to do so… and when it doesn’t, change your behavior: abstain, personally do something else, suggest an alternative to everyone else, something. And if you don’t mind, please come back and share your experience: what didn’t make sense? What did you do/not do? What was your experience?
It may take some time to get the hang of it, but I believe you can do this.
Now, go forth, and make sense.