There are so many people that profit from death, sickness and sorrow, people for whom bad news is somewhat good news. My diatribe is not directed at the Doctor, nurse, undertaker, funeral home, coffin maker, morgue attendants etc. for they are providing an essential service that must be performed and which most people shy away from.
I am talking about those who use the sad circumstances of their lives as a cloak to cheat, steal and deceive, who specialize in taking advantage of the tender hearted and generous persons in their lives and those who use death/ sickness etc to wield power over others by subtle manipulation.
The widow whose husband’s employer undertakes to pay her children’s school fees but who still goes around asking people for the same fees quoting a much higher sum; the child who is taking care of aged parents and who uses them to harass friends, family, colleagues for money. The Wife who though not happy her husband is lying sick enjoys the control she has over him, the circle of people that can contact him, etc or who though he is sick and cannot enjoy life wants him alive because of the self worth he brings to her being. The parent who makes more of their sickness than there is because it gives them the attention that they crave from their children. The friend who always has bad news and always expects their circle of friends to partake of their sorrow accusing them of being fair weathered if they don’t act the way they feel they should.
Bad things happen to us all and we should go through the experience, expect and receive support from family and friends and gradually overcome it. However, for some people, it is the best thing that happened to them for it brings them the attention that they’ve always craved for, the sympathy they think they are deserving of. They wear their sob stories like a badge telling all and sundry what happened to them eons ago as if it just happened. They use it to take advantage of others and get away with bad behavior. They look at others and think they have no use for their monies and time and that they have no right to be “ happy and carefree” because they are going through hard and difficult times. They begrudge their friends their happiness because they are walking under a cloud of darkness.
I must confess that there lies a temptation felt by even the best of us to want to wallow in our pain, to want to tell the whole world the misfortune that has befallen one, to use it to curry favors and justify bad behavior. I find myself questioning my motives at times for telling people that I am a widow for I do not want to willfully profit from the bad things that have happened to me.
I have caught myself thinking that I deserve to be treated in a particular way because of my circumstances or even telling people things because I want them to help me out ( that in itself is not bad) forgetting that everyone has something they are grappling with and that I have no right to think my needs are greater than theirs no matter how I perceive their circumstances.
There is such a spirit of entitlement today that is befuddling and for a lot of us we are not even conscious of our behaviour. People demand that favours be given to them simply because they are going through a bad patch in life, they want to be at the center of attention because of their circumstances, forgetting that no one really owes us anything. If people do stuff for us it’s because they love and care for us and not because they have to and the earlier we come to terms with that fact the better for us.
There are others who revel in being the good guys in the midst of bad happenings. People who will not help when you ask them for favours but who will go to town when you are hit by misfortune because they want everyone to know they are the ones helping you out. I remember a story that made the rounds on WhatsApp a while ago about a guy who was ill and who had pleaded with his friends and family members for money for treatment and just a few people sent money to him but when he died they travelled miles to give him their final respects, contributed money for his burial, wept and gave moving eulogies at his burial.
We also have those who use their circumstances to wrangle money and /or favours out of people through subtle and sometimes not so subtle means of manipulation. People who seem to revel at every bad thing that has happened to them and who wallow in self pity and make it a profession.
I urge us today to think of the ways we use our circumstances, do we use them to benefit unwholesomely, as a means of manipulation or to satisfy our hunger for acceptance and self worth. The only benefit we should learn from bad situations is the opportunity for growth and inspiration .
Let’s remember no one owes us anything.