The Four Letter Should

Should is really a terrible word. I really shouldn’t ever use it. Oh wait, I just did…

The whole concept of should is very imbedded in our culture. There are the little times where you’re talking to a friend about something you like. “You really should try this coffee, it’s amazing!” Fairly harmless right? You’re implying something is wrong or lost if they don’t try that thing. Naturally they may or may not like it, and they’re certainly not wrong in any way if they choose not to try it, or simply forget. The problem comes from the expectations setup just by using the word.

The other and far more dangerous should is related to our sense of justice about life. It starts with “They should really fix that”, “Life really shouldn’t be this way” and “I really should be able to …” This type of should can actually affect the quality of our lives. Even saying it inside our own heads is dangerous, but it’s far worse when you’re talking to another person. If that person agrees with you, then they reinforce the concept and before long you have a new life principle or belief and everything outside that belief is wrong…. Should can change course of lives.

Should is like the spoon in the Matrix. There is no should, there is no spoon, there is no try… There only is or is not, there is no should. Life is what we collectively make of it. We will never truly understand it, never master it, and we shouldn’t try. Oh wait, I did it again… Sigh… Giving up the word is going to be difficult, but I think it’s an important step in my life’s journey, in defining my fairy tale.

Take Nicaragua for instance. The average wage across the country is only about 3200 dollars a year. That’s the average, with many people living on closer to 50 dollars a month, especially in rural areas.

Think about that for a second.

That means the breakfast you paid five dollars to eat, or the latte you paid four dollars to drink, is over two days wages for many of the people here. Where I come from, that would be like spending two to four hundred dollars for breakfast.

When I first realized that, over a very cheap four dollar breakfast with a latte and cake in Granada, it blew my mind. My first thought was It shouldn’t be this way! But that line of thought is irrelevant. It is that way.

The better line of thought is “What can be done to change this?” … “What education or economic changes would lead to a better quality of life for these people?” Even better, I could ask myself:

What can I do to change things?
How can I make a difference?

The better words are “could” and “can” and “why not”? Looking for a solution rather than limiting ourselves with the problem.

That’s what we should be saying…

… Ack…

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