Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rewards and punishments

There is implied in this culture and Western Society a set of beliefs and values that are divided into rewards and punishments. I am sure much is derived from the Christian Tradition, but I don't think it could be placed at that particular religious doctrine since it had to be in our history before the religion slid so neatly into place.

Its a simple concept really. If you eat your vegetables, you can have desert. If you do your homework then you can watch television. Of course, these admonitions are for children. But they carry into adulthood. If you do your exercises and eat right, you, too, can be a normal and functioning human being. If you pay your taxes and obey the law then you won't go to jail and lose your bank account and your job. You can function as a law abiding citizen. People will look up to you and you will not be hassled by the police. It is when someone does all of the right things and he or she gets caught up in all of the things that are not supposed to happen that you see the disillusionment on their faces. It happens. As the saying goes: shit happens.

This same point of view is used by people to punish those who are over-weight. The assumption is made that they have not been doing what they were supposed to be doing. People in all levels of society have this prejudice If those who are over-weight have been doing what they are supposed to been doing, they would not be over-weight. Thus, many feel justified in punishing those who are breaking the rules.

What I am writing is a gross over-simplification of what happens in our world everyday. The system of rewards and punishments that is meted out by people in their actions towards one another is done without much thinking and certainly without mindfulness for it is not compassion that rules these actions but the easier stereotypical thinking and reacting.

We all find ourselves in situations that we never expected to be in. The scale we keep under the bed is showing a number much too high. The doctor tells us we have diabetes now. We have too high blood pressure and so on. I knew this man and his wife who were vegetarians who ate so well and exercised religiously and took a physical to get into a new occupation and found out he was a diabetic. He was in shock. He looked at everyone else with their stomach paunches and bad eating habits and he did none of that. Yet, it was he that had to start on insulin. One of the people he looked at was me. He had really looked down his nose at me. Lots of people do.

I lost weight in Korea, but I still need to lose more. I am scrambling around to find a good exercise program that I can incorporate into my life. I eat very little and thank goodness I have not gained since coming back home. I still get the prejudice from being over-weight. I get it for my age too. Many people feel they have to download their prejudices on me. I won't accept it, but I have stopped unloading my anger on them.

The one thing I am trying to get rid of is the rewards and punishment mode that is so prevalent in the society and culture that I live in. If my grandsons are nice to me, I will take them out for hamburgers sort of thing. I am so over that. If I get my writing done, I can go out and get my shopping done. If I drink my coffee, I can reward myself with a nice meal later. No, I am not going to do that. I don't know what I am going to do, but this rewards and punishments is not for me.

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