(Photo courtesy of Paolo )
Never and Always. Two words that are hardly ever accurate. I say hardly ever, because of course I can’t possibly say they are never accurate. That would just be a bit of an ironic twist.
Back in my younger years, (you know, like 5 years ago) when I was sufficiently naive and not yet
jaded aware of how life really works, I still believed in the words always and never. I had complete faith in myself about my convictions and I had complete faith in my opinion of other people’s personalities and strengths. Nothing could change my opinions and the things I believed to be true would always be so. Or so I thought at the time.
Sadly, the world has changed. Not just for myself but in general. With new scandals right and left by people you can’t believe would or could ever have done the things attributed to them, you kind of lose your faith. You start to see that in essence, you cannot completely trust anyone or anything.
Never and always are two words that are just about impossible to use correctly or honestly. I have been racking my brains to see if there was any instance that they can be used correctly and the only thing I came up with was a sentence similar to the following one.
I have never eaten Pork. I know that to be true because I am Jewish and keep kosher. So to the best of my knowledge as long as no one pulled a fast one on me at some point during my life, I can honestly say that as far as I know I have never eaten Pork. (Hmm, even there I had to qualify my use of never.)
I also do tend to have a chuckle when some women use the word always in a sentence like this one: I always have great pregnancies. Lots of times I have heard that from women after only two pregnancies. Okay….so always in your two pregnancies you felt fine. Even with my 5 pregnancies, I don’t really think always is the right word. To me at least, it seems that always is a word you use after hundreds of times of doing something and even then I don’t like it because maybe the next time will be different. Next time may be the one to change your mind about how things are done and it won’t be always anymore.
Or maybe it is just me. My actual problem with the words are more in the context of sentences like: I will always….or he would never….
I used to believe that you could say with certainty about certain people that they would never do a specific thing or that someone would always love you. Over the years, I have changed my mind.
Mind you, I am not in any way saying that I have lost all hope for humanity or that I think the world is a horrible place. Not at all. I am just being realistic because I have realized that faced with certain situations, anyone can be capable of anything.
I hear the gasps of disbelief. No way! I would never kill anyone! I will always love my kids and spouse. For most of us, I believe that will probably be true. What I am saying though is that there may be some of us who for some reason or another are pushed into a corner and make decisions we thought we would never be capable of making.
Just for the sake of argument, if you had to kill someone to protect your child, I am sure most of us would have a hard time letting our child die when we could have taken some action. I hope none of us ever need to make that decision.
I started pondering this topic because my 18 year old son is leaving next week on a school trip to Poland called March of the Living. It is an educational program that brings Jewish youth from all over the world to Poland where they visit different concentration camps. There is a march of the living which takes place on the actual route many Jews were forced on a march of death into the gas chambers. The goal of the March of the Living is to lead these Jewish youth into the future vowing NEVER AGAIN. While as a Jew I truly hope this will be the case, history has shown us otherwise. Never is a word with really big shoes that are hard to fill.
I have two grandmothers who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp. I grew up hearing both at school and at home, many horror stories of what went on during the Holocaust. The stories that stuck with me the most were the stories of mothers who were forced to choose between their children. They were faced with the impossible choice of deciding who would stay with them and live and who would be taken from them and be killed. That is a choice any parent would say they could never make. Yet parents did make the choice when faced with losing all their children if they did not.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Hunt )
My point in all of this was not to detail all the atrocities that happened during the Holocaust or that happen in the world these days. It was to point out that we cannot be certain about anything we might do or feel or say in this life. I don’t think anyone honestly knows for certain what they would never do or if they can be certain they will always do or feel something.
I believe that we can and should lead our lives with certain rules and choices. Obviously we should aim high and set high moral standards for ourselves. What I am also saying is that there really is nothing certain in this life except for death.
I personally have been trying very hard to keep never and always out of my vocabulary. I think we all need to face the fact that 100% certainty about anything in life is non existent. I think people would not fail in general and not fail us personally quite as much if we stop holding them to the impossible standard set by the use of the words always and never.
I know this post has been a deep and a bit somber one but my point was that we really should be careful with the words we chose, the generalizations we make and the people we put on pillars.
I would be curious to know how many of us have had a never or always belief shattered. I know I have.