Sometimes a word, phrase or idea gets planted in my brain and takes root. It grows, tendrils reaching into other parts of my consciousness, roots thrusting down into my unconscious and permeating ideas yet to surface.
Right now, the phrase "Because I Can," has a hold of my mind like kudzu takes over Southern highway roadsides. I can't let it go. It begs me to notice, to think about it, to chop through and see what's underneath.
The phrase burrowed into my brain several weeks ago. Leading Man was watching a television program about posh parties for kids. He joked with me about the cost of Little Man's upcoming party, and said the mom on screen had spent $15,000 on her child's birthday party. When the interviewer asked her "Why?" she responded:
BECAUSE I CAN.
BECAUSE I CAN?!
What an arrogant, obnoxious thing to say. "Because I Can" says "I have more money than sense." It says "Because I am not responsible to others." It says "I care more about making my kids feel good than teaching them financial responsibility, value and compassion."
It says "I dare you to judge me."
In my upper-middle-class mentality, I cannot fathom spending this kind of cash on a party. Any party. No matter how much I have -- and we're comfortable, I admit that -- I don't want my kids to think this kind of spending is wise. Money can do immense good. It can also do harm.
"Because I Can" is a safer, softer way of saying "Because you can't."
It is a claim to power. Power over other people. Power wielded with no regard for the consequences. Power that divides.
In my world, "Because I Can" doesn't excuse wreckless behavior.
Applied with compassion, Because I Can is not "power over," it is "power to." The power to improve people's lives. The power to heal wounded hearts. The power to lift sagging spririts. The power to change what ails us locally, nationally, and globally.
Use your power to send donations to tsunami relief agencies. Why? Because you can.
Send words of comfort to the parents of a rural Pennsylvania farm family who lost 7 of their 8 children to a house fire last week while they, the parents, worked through the night in the dairy barn. Why? Because you can.
Find a military family near you and pay a lawn service to mow their grass all summer so that military mom doesn't have to do her it all herself. She'll never ask for it. But you'll make a difference.
Volunteer your time. It is just as powerful as money, maybe moreso.
Do these things BECAUSE YOU CAN.
Bottom line: "Because I Can" is no excuse. "Because I Can" is a privilege. Honor it.
This post prepared for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday at Things I Can't Say. Thanks to reality TV for the inspiration. I am stepping down from the soapbox now.