Last night, after shopping for kids (toys! Surprise, surprise!), on sheer insistence of our kids, we made our way to California Pizza Kitchen, a casual dining restaurant chain, to grab dinner. The route we take there has this large digital billboard for a car wash. The small cartoon video shows a donkey dirtying the car, the car getting into the car-wash and coming out all clean and shiny. Every time we pass that route, our kids are excited to see it, discussing on why the donkey would do it. Yesterday, Jr. Manzer Part II asked us:
“Why the donkey dirty the car?”
“It’s a naughty donkey.” I answered. Then added, “Are you a naughty donkey too? Since you keep dirtying the walls?”
There was a pause and then she answered. “No. I am a ‘It’s OK-donkey!‘…” Needless to say, we burst out laughing.
What’s an ‘It’s OK donkey’ you ask? Allow me to explain.
Whenever our kids do something naughty and they come and tell us, we talk to them, tell them to clean up after the mess and if the apologizing and remorseful crying continues, we tell them ‘It’s OK’. That constitutes the basis of the ‘It’s OK Donkey’. The person who acknowledges his/her mistakes but also chooses to not learn from it and be cautious in the future. Basically who knows something is wrong with their actions, yet refuse to improve themselves. Luckily, neither of our kids fall in this category. This statement is backed by the fact that we haven’t had another case of wall-writing for some months now. Basically since we made them clean the wall. We believe in teaching them that their actions do bear consequences, even if the consequences result in them trying their best to clean a pencil mark on the wall.
There are always such people around, no matter where you are. Everyone makes mistakes, no doubt about that. What divides people into various categories is either they refuse to acknowledge their mistake, or acknowledge it and refuse to improve, or go the difficult route and improve themselves as responsible human beings. The first one, I usually ignore. Simply because there is no right way to approach them. It will always end up in them self-victimizing themselves or vilifying everything and everyone around them. In short, do all within their power to avoid any accountability.
The last category, well, are people who are often termed as reliable. Not much to scrutinize them here.
It is the middle category which incites much frustration in people around them and in many ways, within themselves. Somebody once said in my presence: ‘I know something is wrong with me but I don’t know what and how to fix it.’ I was filled with pity. Of course it is not easy being that person, no more than being around them. Someone else presented another side of the coin which often is ignored by most. They said:
“Being around a person who needs professional help, either mentally or physically, also takes a toll on the caregiver’s health.”
Yup. That is true too.
The stigma around mental health is slowly transforming into discussions, often reluctant, and beneficial approach. We are talking more about it, discussing it, dissecting it. People who are constantly trying to educate themselves on mental and emotional health are also aware to not let the recent phenomenon of following an influencer, with no credible training, to teach them about it. Often, it leads to more harm than good. But that topic is for another day. Reverting to the aforesaid line of thought, there is yet another aspect of mental health we do not talk about. Money!
Sweetheart…therapy sessions aren’t free. Nor does everyone has the capacity to afford them.
Sure it’s between $20-$250 per session. Surely, average people can go for a lower budgeted one?
Yes some can. Not the ones who have to juggle between two, sometimes three jobs merely to put food on their tables or a roof over their head. Single parents with ever rising expenses and little to no financial support. A person who has a low paying job, which almost converts to slave labor (ahem…feel free to name some corporations here!) which puts food in their bellies but no roof over their heads. Or those homeless people who have neither, who have to rely on the mercy of a video-recording-picture-clicking-for-their-social-media-feed-individuals for something as basic as food and water. Am I being too harsh? I mean they are doing good, right? Here’s the thing I feel with passion.
People in need are not an accessory to be flaunted on your social media feed to gain more followers.
Neither are backdrops of social justice movements to pose with a broken window, or pretending to clean up in a relevant t-shirt with appropriate logo, or basically switching up a pose in every situation to exploit. Yes, there are people who are driven by genuine concern and thoughtfulness. Or people holding large platforms who must use it to spread awareness. Here, I am talking about those that find nothing wrong with exploiting a situation to their own advantage. I am sure all of us know about such people. Hell, sometimes we are such people.
Honey…we have all exploited a person/situation to some degree to our advantage, no matter what the cause or the incitement for it be. If you think you or someone whom you know, haven’t…HA! HA! HA! That laughter was drenched in sarcasm by the way. We are all manipulative people. Even the best of us. Although not everyone is manipulative in a destructive or self-centered kind of way. I am just painting the broader picture. You get my point.
If we keep up the discussions about the financial aspect of mental health, I often feel that it’s easier to say ‘S/He should get professional help’, than to actually try and understand if the person concerned is reluctant to get help because they can’t pay for it? Or because it will be hard to fit in another expense in their overtly tight budget. True, mental health is extremely important. But so is food and housing. It is also a privileged thinking to assume that because something is important, it is affordable. If you haven’t been on that road, I suggest you try saying: ‘I don’t understand…’ rather than ‘If it were me…’. It’s not you. And I do hope it will never be you where you would have to choose between feeding your body or feeding your mind and soul.
Now, I do not want to speak for anyone else, but for me, it is a huge question on the government(s) of the present and the past and the public governing offices, where their citizens and constituents have to struggle with basics. Yes, I know. Perfection is an illusion and this is not a Utopia. However, this is a place where there must be constant efforts to grant better quality of life to people. It does astound me that how the world governments are always prepared for war-like emergencies, and were completely swept off their feet in a pandemic. Humans have had to face widespread plagues and stuff in history, haven’t we? How the citizens wouldn’t bat an eyelid for humongous war reserve budgets, but do have the nerve to ask who’s going to pay for vaccinating the homeless. Where it is completely ok to let the homeless freeze on the streets and die, rather than work towards a plan to eradicate homelessness all in all. Speaks a lot for all of us as a race, as a society, doesn’t it?
Maybe we are all a race of ‘It’s OK Donkeys‘.
So, even though this term sprang up in a light-hearted manner, and trust me, I did mean this one to be a light-hearted article, but as is the case with writers, we go with what our emotions feed us. In conclusion, to redefine the term ‘It’s OK Donkey’.
It’s OK Donkey– A term used to categorize people who see a problem, and either exploit them to their advantage, or turn their heads away to avoid doing anything about it, reassuringly muttering ‘It’s ok…it’s ok…’ to themselves.
You may now begin to disagree with me.