Monday, January 3, 2011

It Doesn't Mean You Have to Like it

While watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as a kid one line struck me. It bugged me because I didn't get it. Young Indiana's trying to get a valuable artifact ("it belongs in a museum!!!") from , if memory serves correctly, a band of men who plan to sell it to the highest bidder. After giving it a good fight, the item ends up on the other side and the men's leader smiles at Indiana and says, either with some degree of respect or humoring him, "You lost today kid. It doesn't mean you have to like it." My initial thought was: Course he's not going to like losing, who likes losing? Certainly not me.

There's depth to the simplicity of this statement, I eventually appreciated. Losses or painful situations tend to happen with some regularity in virtually each person's life. Not talking about the feeling I get when all the good seats are taken at a theater by the time I show up (as paining as it is), but something seriously affecting one's or a dear one's health, life situation, and so on. 

And it's OK that we don't like them. It's OK that we're upset or annoyed and have negative feelings and it's something that maybe as a young person it may feel confusing to go through. I'd need to brush up on my developmental psychology as to when the following happens exactly, but at some point people develop a sense that the world is a just place and that good things happen to people who do good whereas the opposite is true (let's put aside for a moment the occasional subjectivity in what constitutes good and evil). Realizing that good is not necessarily rewarded accordingly is infuriating.*

Months ago a coworker was sharing a rough situation with me in how she was helping to care for an aging aunt. We talked for a few minutes and she shrugged, saying coldly, "But what can I say, that's the way it  is [her aunt's situation]." I said, "Yeah, but it doesn't mean you have to like it," and she smiled. Perhaps somewhat oddly, a comforting statement.

Like anything sure, it can go to the extreme. I don't mean it's helpful to continue and wallow and not be able to work through a slump that's preventing you from taking part in things that make you happy, from working through a crisis or moving on and all that. It may be something that kicks you in the direction of doing something to change things. Or it may just be something that needs to be worked through -- and something that tests our idea that the world is balanced. 

It's interesting -- though I studied psychology in college and in the back of my mind I recognize absurdity behind a lot of things that happen I want to believe I live in a balanced, or just (however seemingly slanted) world.

* I'm not sure if this is similar to the just world effect, by which people believe the world's inherently just and if something bad happens to someone it's because it's his own fault, thus blaming the victim. 

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