CathyHird banner 09Nov22

Commercials can be annoying. Sometimes it’s the interruption to a plot that has us on the edge of the seat. More often, for me, it is the content of the commercial.

Take the No1 de Chanel commercial that starts with a beautiful flower, the red camillia, then switches to the face of one of several beautiful women. The commercial claims that the ointment will reverse the five common signs of aging making skin appear younger. At least it doesn’t claim to make the skin younger. But what is this obsession with looking younger?  

I wouldn’t mind reversing the changes to a joint in my foot that hurts too often, but there is no way I want to give up what I have learned since I was twenty. I made some of my worse mistakes in my twenties. I am much wiser, more stable, happier now than I was then. Why is it that our society wants people to stop at twenty?

The commercial that bothers me most these days is for a TV series. It begins with a woman telling a man named Michael that she is offering him an opportunity to atone for what he has done. That part is okay. But then a voice in the background, sounds like hers, announces in a menacing tone of voice, “If we do this right, everyone is going to get exactly what they deserve.” Really? That sounds horrible. It sounds like revenge, not justice.

If it were not for the menace in the voice, we might think she is claiming that every family will have a home to live in and every child enough food. Everybody deserves a roof over their heads, especially as cold air descends this week. I would love a show – even more a government program – that promises a guaranteed living wage and affordable housing.

I suppose I should watch an episode of this show before I judge it. What does the premise that everyone should get what they deserve mean to them?

If prison would help the addict who drove impaired and killed someone, maybe I would believe in prison more. It does keep the person from behind the wheel of a car for a time. It does punish them for their actions. But then, it dumps them back out on the street with no job, no home, little support. The chances they repeat are huge.

There are detox and treatment programs that are effective. If we believe that everyone – no matter what they have done – deserves to live a healthy and whole life, then we support programs that help people deal with their problems. We don’t just make them pay.

There are scammers who take a person for everything they can get. It is true that the scammed person deserves their money back. But what do we do? Education is needed. And new ways of enforcement. And banks can be vigilant as well. When I went to wire transfer our contribution to our granddaughter’s university education, the bank teller not only helped with the transfer, but checked that I knew the person I was sending money to. I told them I appreciated their vigilance.

A story about a scammed person getting their money back would be lovely. But it is pure fantasy. Pushing for international co-operation to track transfers of money would be much more helpful.

My dislike of this idea of getting what you deserve is influenced by two spiritual ideas.

The one that comes first to mind (to be honest) comes from the Lord of the Rings.

When Frodo declares that Gollum deserves death, Gandalf says, “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”

In the end, it is Gollum who completes Frodo’s task.

The second comes from the life of Jesus.

Through his ministry, he showed mercy to the sinner, welcomed the outcast, turned society’s attitudes upside down. Then, he was put to death as a traitor to Rome, but that death was transformed into new life.

Resurrection, not revenge, brought transformation.

It is easy to think of getting what we deserve in transactional terms: do good and get good; do bad and get bad.

But that is not the path to healing, health, a new world.

Cathy Hird lives on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation.




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