Essays

On A Roll

I had a “thing” happen the other day. I guess you could call it a moment. I went into the bathroom at my house and realized a new roll of toilet paper had been put out in place of the old one. I did what I went in there to do, and when I went to reach for the roll I realized it had been put there with the paper coming out from underneath. Instantly I felt the internal cringe. That well recognized feeling of… something isn’t right. I can’t take it. I must fix it. You see, I’m a paper on the top person. I like the paper to be placed so that it comes over the top of the roll and hangs down. And being a top person, I don’t understand those bottom people. The people who place the roll so the paper hangs down from behind. It makes no sense to me. And not only does it not make sense, I have justification for why the roll should hang the way I want it to. I know, for a fact, that a person uses less paper if it rolls over the top. Grabbing from underneath is more awkward and it’s harder to stop the roll from rolling completely and wildly out of control. I know it’s true. I believe it’s true. It must be true. However, even though I was faced with these irrefutable facts, I used a control I find at times impossible to muster, I resisted the very strong urge to take it off and flip it over. Sighing deeply, I let it go.

Later, this got me thinking. How interesting it is that I had, and have, such a reaction to what is a very minor issue. It wasn’t just that I was slightly annoyed the paper was, I felt, not placed correctly on the spool. It’s that I was incensed by it. Unable to even grasp why a person would do such a thing. I was appalled… every fiber of my being crying out against the dastardly act that had been perpetrated. And the question here is, why? Why did this small little thing bother me so very much?

The answer, I think, is that we are consumed by the details of every day life. We all have an internal order to things. We each have our own barometer of what is and isn’t right. What should and shouldn’t happen. How the world operates, what rules we live by, what is correct. The problem is, everyone has their own sense of order… their own sense of right and wrong. And, bottom line, who is supposed to determine whose sense, or order, or idea of what’s correct, is the right one. Who gets to decide?

Now, if you ask people who are extremely religious, they will tell you that there is only one barometer for what’s right… the good book. I mean, even using that term to describe the belief says it all. It’s the good book, not the bad one. Implying it’s the right book, and not the wrong one. But, I’m not going to argue whether or not Christian religion is good or bad. I’m not a Christian, and don’t know enough about it, really, to argue that point anyway. I’m simply asking, is there any one rule, any one way, for everyone? If Christians want to follow the Christian faith, more power to them. It’s just not for me. So, for me, the good book doesn’t define the rules.

So, how about our government? I happen to think that we have a great system here in the old U.S. of A., but is it the best? Is it the right one? If you ask some staunch political activists they will tell you yes. But does that give us the right to then go and tell everyone else how to run their countries, their lives, their children’s lives? Because it seems to work better than any other system we’ve found thus far, is it then the end all and be all of the way to govern all people? Should we determine the rules for all other peoples in all other nations? I say no, but that’s just me.

Then I began to realize, as I got further into this line of thinking that in my little toilet paper incident I found many more questions than answers. I’m interested in this, the idea that there’s only one way to do things, because, really, I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe I know best, or you do, or someone in political office or on the pulpit does. I don’t believe I have a right to dictate what any other person chooses to do. Thinking that we always know what’s best, not just for ourselves, but for those around us, is arrogant. It’s arrogant to think one way, our way, is the best. It’s arrogant to assume we know what’s right for others, in daily living, politics, and religion. It’s arrogant to think we have a right to tell anyone else what to do. Sure, there are rules of society, laws, structure. There have to be systems set up to deal with keeping the peace. But even that is, I feel, sometimes taken too far. We feel the need to legislate everything nowadays. And that, itself, is edging into that arrogant area of telling others how to live their lives. Telling others we know what’s best for them. And, do we? Thinking we have the answers, the solutions, the best and possibly only way of dealing with life in a proper way, is wrong. In doing that, thinking that, we take away another’s opinion, their say in life, their core right to choose for themselves. I might not agree with another’s way of doing something, but that’s ok. It’s ok to think differently, act differently. It’s ok to be different.

This, in the end, brings me back to the paper. I wanted, at the time, to confront the offender. I wanted to shout at the heavens and in the face of the person, whom I love, that I was right and they were wrong. But I didn’t. I didn’t. Because, finally, I realized it wasn’t important. What is important is that we are, none of us, perfect. I, certainly, am not. And because of that there is no perfect way to do anything. There’s just my way, and your way, and the way of that guy sitting over there sipping his coffee who I don’t even know. We are flawed, and we have no right to determine for anyone else what’s right or wrong, for them. We can’t, any of us, be a dictator of the rules for others. We can only, hopefully, agree to compromise, come up with an amicable solution, or even disagree. How silly of me, that day, to think otherwise. How silly of me to assume I was, with absolute certainty, right. How silly of me to be so silly. Hopefully, next time, I will be more tolerant, flexible, open, and less affected, by a simple act of paper hanging.

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