Tuesday, April 14

Could Be Worse

Here's what I don't get:  "It could be worse" (and its first cousin "Worse things could happen")

How, exactly, is that supposed to help?

The only thing it's got going for itself is that it's Sarah Vowell's motto.  I idolize Sarah Vowell. Here she is talking about people who compare themselves to Rosa Parks, followed by her original song entitled (guess what)  "Could Be Worse".

Still, with a voice like that, she can pretty much say anything she wants, so it doesn't really count.

This is more like what I mean:

My point exactly.


Jill said...

Here's what I don't get: What's the difference between "could be worse" and "could be better"? Does it reflect the eternal optimist vs. the perpetual pessimist? Is it cultural, spiritual,philosophical or, as I suspect (as I admit I do about many things) believe it has something to do with Yiddishisms involving a necessarily expansive approach encompassing all possibilities (and many limbs) such as, "well, on one hand...but on the other hand...".

Robin said...

Yeah, I suppose you could put it in an optimist/pessimist framework, but isn't it possible to be optimistic without making other people feel dismissed? That just annoys me. Geez, keep it yourself. Ya know?

The "could be worse" also smells of the Oprah gratitude stuff, and you already know how I feel about that.

I don't think it's about the Yiddish speculation of the possibilities. I think it's got far more to do with people's inability (or disinterest) in engaging in any "uncomfortable" discussion or facing anyone else's pain or distress. Easier to try to distract the distressed one into trying to think of something else or convince them to feel "lucky".

And maybe they (we) ARE lucky. But in that moment, in that second, that's not the point, is it? What's the matter with connection?

This Eclectic Life said...

As Reb Tevye would say, "On the other hand...there is no other hand." Or something like that. I agree with you, Robin, that it's about our ability to deal with discomfort.

At a recent funeral I heard, "Don't he just look natural? Looks like he could just sit up and talk to you." That was supposed to be a comfort? I replied, "Nope. He looks dead to me."

There's nothing the matter with connection, but most people are uncomfortable with it, so they resort to trite phrases that are ridiculous on closer inspection. That probably won't change.

Robin said...

Therein lies the problem, Shelly. I don't really do "that probably won't change".