Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cold Blue Skies

The human race gets used to things far too easily.

When I came back from Africa this past March, the world seemed to be brighter and newer and shinier than it ever had been before. It was so American that it made me laugh—snow and bare trees and nice roads and friendly white people and cold blue skies.

It was wonderful. Very wonderful. But as time went on, and March passed into April and May, something happened.

America was America. It was so different from Africa, but after a while the contrast between the two began to fade. I grew accustomed to having hot water (that blessed thing) and 24-hour electricity and seeing “white people” every day.

And I find that the more I get accustomed to something, the less I appreciate it and the more I feel entitled to it. Getting “used to” something is, in the end, a bad thing.

And it's not just good things that I get used to. Getting used to bad things is even more dangerous.

Evils such as murder are horrifying and shocking because of their rarity, because we never get used to them. But having lived in a country where corruption is the norm and violence is a given, I can tell you firsthand that getting used to that which is bad only serves to make things worse.

Because when you're used to something, you don't particularly care to change it. After being pulled over for the twentieth time by a so-called policeman, you start wondering if you can ever make a difference. Little by little, we get used to it, we tell ourselves that it's the way things are and we have to just deal with it. And little by little, we stop trying to change it.

Here's the deal: never get used to anything. Never take anything good for granted or anything evil as the norm.

Let every good day be extraordinarily good. The grass is green, and sometimes it feels as if that's all it could be. But if you think about it, it could very well have been brown—so be grateful for green grass! The world is wonderfully new and incredibly old—every day is a new one, and yet nearly the same as the one before.

I said earlier that the more I get accustomed to something, the less I appreciate it. So perhaps the converse is true—maybe you will appreciate something more if you are used to it less.

And let every bad thing be awful. Never get used to it—never let evil be an everyday occurrence, or sin be habitual. Never let it numb you—never let poverty be a fact of life, never let the world's depravity lull you into thinking there's nothing you can do, never let it callous your heart.

Let good be wonderfully good, and let bad be unacceptably evil—and never get used to either.

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