Monday, January 18, 2016

Maybe I Should Start a Fight

Tomorrow my truck is headed to the body shop AGAIN. Almost three years ago I was in an accident in which my poor old truck was damaged so heavily they wanted to total it. Upon thorough inspection they changed their minds, did the work, and spared me a car payment. They did not, however, spare us a two month ordeal simply to get my vehicle back in some sort of shape so as to appear as though the shop had tried to do the work properly. A few months back I ran into someone who urged me to seek out the new management of the shop and ask them to make good on the repairs. So we did. I'm not sure either of us is hopeful this will not be just another fight (primarily the reason we accepted the work as it was done/ undone three years ago).

I've always been told to choose my battles -- something that for many years I was not good at. I was a fighter; I knew things should be a certain way, or I thought things should be a certain way, and I determined to make them that way. These days I'm pretty strong, but I'm not a fighter. American society, and maybe even the world, is losing its desire for excellence; I just don't seem to have what it takes to combat that. People do just enough to move the job past their station on the assembly line, never thinking about the station after theirs and the person waiting; never thinking about the end product. Others are looking to burn the plant to the ground, collect the insurance money and walk away with an easy buck. I suppose that by not hitting the big red button, by not stopping the line, by not speaking out and saying, "Hey, folks, we can't keep churning out substandard work!" or "We need to do the right thing!", I have become part of the problem. I get it, though -- I really do. Where is the reward or even the benefit of doing great work when everyone else is doing just what they need to do to get by? And some of those mastering in mediocrity are getting by pretty well! while others struggle, giving it their all.

The reality of it is, in this world there's very little reward. At least not the type that comes with doing the right thing, or demonstrating character, or doing your best, or even fighting for what is right. Ours has become a temporary society: quality, lasting a lifetime is passé. Disposable, "the next new thing," constant reinvention is where it's at. And I think it's getting to us all.

Some have quietly conceded defeat, stepping back and letting the rest of society do its thing as they do "just enough." Some, not so quietly fight, stepping out of the masses to call others back to "the way things used to be." Some have stepped in line behind the piper, stuffing one hand in their pocket, and their other hand into someone else's. And some work steadily, dutifully, faithfully as if nothing has changed. So, which are you? Which am I?

To be honest, it depends on the situation. I have been guilty of all of the above. But who do I want to be? And why? On this, a day of helping and making a difference, I'd like to say I aspire toward change; to hitting the big red button, calling all of us to excellence again. But that requires fighting, and sometimes I'm not sure how much fight I have left in me for those things. I certainly don't want to burn the place down or do just enough, passing my problems on to the next person on the line. I tend to lean toward "being the change I wish to see;" working steadily, dutifully, faithfully "as unto the Lord and not unto men," leaving others to raise their voices. I'm not sure if that's a bit of a cop out or not.

But in these times, when the welfare system and the legal system are for some nothing more than an easy payday; when "See something, say something" is hushed by "Snitches get stitches;" when hard work and excellence is something reserved strictly for suckers; when status and income outweigh common sense and kindness; when sticking our heads in the sand is much more comfortable and appealing than sticking our necks out, let us all ask ourselves, "Isn't it time I start a fight?"

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