Monday, July 27, 2009

The price of personal integrity

I used to believe in karma. I thought that when you were a good person who made good choices and affected the world in a positive way you would be repaid in kind. Maybe not tit for tat, but certainly that the world or universe or higher power would see your good deeds and pave your way a little.

My mom taught me the golden rule and I bought into the theory. Treat others as you'd want to be treated. Sounds fair, right? If you are nice to people, they will be nice to you back.

But wait, that's not the moral of the story at all, is it? The rule of karma doesn't talk about the payout, we just interject that of our own accord because we think that's what is fair and just.

Unfortunately, the world is not fair and just at all. The world is full of givers and takers at a ratio of 1:10. Takers rarely see their ways from outside themselves and become givers, and givers rarely sell their personal integrity to become takers. So, are we destined upon birth to become one or the other, and sentenced to a life within that role? Because I was brought up to believe that I am blessed and I should help those around me that are less fortunate, does that mean that they are fated to have things I cannot?

I know this all sounds very bitter, and truthfully I feel bitter about it on many occasions. I feel bitter when I see people take advantage of programs that were not designed to help them simply because they feel they deserve material things more than others. I feel bitter when I see the local adoption agencies struggle for funds because they have more unwanted and uncared for children than they can take care of. I feel bitter when I donate extra money to the electric company to help those who can't pay their bills only to hear that the people who can't pay their bills are in that predicament because their air conditioner is set at 65 degrees or their jacuzzi heater is on high.

The problem is that there are also those that are truly in need. There are mothers who cannot feed their children, not because they pay too much for cigarettes and booze, but because they were laid off or left an abusive relationship. There are veterans who are disabled and homeless, who hold signs at freeway entrances hoping to earn a few coins and purchase another gallon of water. There are dogs, ribs sticking through their skin, left chained in backyards to die in the heat because their owners left them when they moved.

They deserve to be takers. And the people that are giving deserve to be able to gift things knowing that they will make it to the hands of these who are truly needy.

The price of my personal integrity is high as of late and as much as I'd like to cut and run at times I fear that I'm a lost cause at this point. We could stop all of our contributions and live an easier life, but would I be able to lay my head down on my pillow and not see the faces of those I could have helped haunting me?

The food at restaurants doesn't taste as good when you know that there are those going hungry in your neighborhood, and a new pair of shoes puts you in excruciating pain when the man on the corner has holes in his soles.

So, it is better to be a taker? Is ignorance truly bliss? If you don't see that beggar at all does his plight weigh heavy on your mind?

I struggle with this daily as we decide how we are going to raise our children. Do we set the price of their personal integrity so high that they will wish they had been raised to be takers? Will my children resent that they don't have some of the same things that their friends have simply because we believe in giving and saving?

And, can givers even raise takers? When I look at the people I know they are definitely products of their upbringing and often turn out exactly as their parents are. So, do I sentence my children to a life of being caring and contributing, but also being confused as to why their friends are carefree with their ignorance and government checks?

How do you raise children that are both conscionable and happy, as it sometimes seems that these traits are mutually exclusive?

Moliere, one of my favorite writers of all time said, "Every good act is charity. A man's true wealth hereafter is the good that he does in this world to his fellows."

I hope he was right.

Monday, July 13, 2009

There's good news and there's bad news...

It's finally official and I can announce our good news to the world: Corey got the job he interviewed for and he will now be an instructor for the Air Force which comes with a 4-5 year committment to keep us stationed at Luke!

I'm not a HUGE fan of Phoenix, but it is nice to have peace of mind that we won't be transferred to somewhere random, Corey won't be deployed to the desert, and we won't be separated for a long period of time (other than his training course of six weeks which is coming up soon). Corey is also excited that my family will be close when we start a family as he thinks I'll be a neurotic mom.

The only downside to this announcement is that it came ONE day after we signed a lease to rent another home close to base. We love the house and will enjoy living in it, but had we known that we would be here for at least a few years we would have been looking at buying a house instead of renting again.

I know that it's probably not that prohibitive as it's going to take us a LOOONG time to choose a house to buy (we're very picky) and we wouldn't have wanted to stay in our current house much longer, but I hate the idea of living in someone else's house when we don't have to.

In less exciting news, I have a new doctor and I'm hoping that he will be able to help me treat whatever is going on with me. Unfortunately, I've spent the last two years suffering from various areas of pretty intense pain and at some point I have to wonder whether it's more than bad luck and something more systematic. I'm not "that girl" that's always sick, and I live a pretty healthy life, so the fact that I'm always in pain is pretty upsetting. I'd really like to have my life back, so if you could send me some good vibes I would appreciate it!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

...make lemonade.

We all know what you're supposed to do when life gives you lemons, but what do you do if you ARE a lemon? Or, as Corey asked me yesterday, "Are you sure your parents aren't first cousins?"

While I am quite certain that my parents are not blood relations, I do believe my mom must have imbibed some wonky cough syrup a few too many time while incubating me 27 years ago.

The inflammation in my pericardial sac has been quite stubborn, so I went for a follow up to my cardiologist to see what our next course of action is. He scheduled an echo cardiogram to get a view of my heart without ripping me open and found something rather interesting. I suffer from a congenital heart defect known as Patent Foramen Ovale, or more commonly referred to as a hole in my heart. As much as 20% of us are born with a membrane not yet closed in our hearts, but in most people it heals when we are very small - either naturally or due to medication or surgery. Unfortunately, mine did not.

The leak in my heart is small, and he is confident that not only does it have nothing to do with my current inflammation, but also that nothing needs to immediately be done about it.

Later in life if I develop problems like arrhythmia or palpitations, they will surgically repair it. It does put me at higher risk for stroke and causes migraines (which I suffer from) so I can elect to have the surgery now, but I think we will handle things one at a time.

In other (and much more exciting) news the boy is being promoted! For those of you that aren't familiar, the military world doesn't work the way the civilian world does as far as promotions go. There is a massive points system in place that decides who gets promoted and when, and it is based on a number of things - the largest percentage of points being assigned to a test that rivals the SATs. Last year he missed being promoted by a heartbreaking 3 points, but this year we celebrated at 6 in the morning when we found his name on the list for Tech Sargeant! Unfortunately since he is pretty young for this position, he will be one of the later people promoted (somewhere between 8-10 months from now), but it will make a huge difference in his day to day duties and we couldn't be more excited. We may also soon have another exciting Air Force announcement to make, but will wait until it is made official.

This weekend we will make our traditional 4th of July trek up the mountain to see the fireworks with my parents, and I am excited to have 4 full days to hang out with my husband rather than our normal rushed weekend.

We hope everyone else has a great long weekend and stays safe too!