After my Canada Day post, I received a few replies via social media that shared a common theme – I’m not a burden. I sort of expected it, because it’s the nice thing to tell someone when they perceive themselves as a burden. No one is ever a burden, right? Bad things sometimes just happen to people and it’s not their fault and they shouldn’t be seen as weight for society. That’s the politically correct view, but not a realistic one.
Perhaps it’s the term burden that people recoil from. I don’t quite see why. Look at the definition above. I am a load, and because of my ailments a rather heavy one, on society. I do what I can to lighten that load by trying to live a healthy, active life, so that I don’t constantly need to see doctors or get tests or receive government-funded treatments. But I’m a load nonetheless.
In retrospect, I failed to really get at two major points in my last post.
1. While I perceive myself as a burden, I don’t really see myself as all that different from other people, because frankly we’re all burdens on the world at large. It’s just that some people weigh more heavily on the world than others because they take more and give less.
2. Being a burden right now does not mean I will remain a burden for the rest of my life.
On the first point, let’s for a minute replace the word “burden” and its antonym “aid” with the words “taker” and “giver”. We’re all takers in the sense that we’re a drain on food, water, energy, and a number of other resources. We take a little more with each day we’re alive. We can counteract those worldly losses through what we give back to society through our work, the taxes we pay, and maybe the volunteer work we do. There are also intangibles that we can give. We can make others feel happy, or proud, or a number of other good emotions.
Now, I’m a taker in the usual aspects of food, water, energy, etc. But I also take a great deal from the healthcare system, and I take from my family because I’m unemployed and live at home. Being unemployed means I don’t currently give back through tax deductions from my paycheque. I may be able to contribute some of those intangibles I mentioned above, but on the whole, I’m more of a taker than a giver. I’m not saying “healthy”, employed individuals aren’t takers as well, they are, and so they’re not entirely different from me. The difference, however, is that they give more than they take.
Speaking to my second point, my balance sheet may currently lean more towards taking than giving, but I will hopefully have future opportunities to rectify this imbalance. My future contributions through work, healthy living, etc. will count as payback for all that I’ve taken during my sickly days. That’s my goal – to be more of a giver than a taker. In other words, be more of an aid to society than a burden.
Oops, there’s that word again.
Image via The Graefs