Saturday, December 9, 2006

Sunday Scribblings-Punishment and Reward

I don't believe in punishment - either in the cosmic or the personal sense. I don't subscribe to the notion that something in the univserse will strike me with a lightning bolt if I defy its mandates. I don't believe that any bad luck that befalls me is because I didn't go to church last Sunday, or because I swore seven times yesterday, or even because I took home a couple of pads of sticky notes from my office. Conversely, I don't feel I'll be rewarded just because I spent some extra time helping an elderly neighbor with her Christmas cards, or took an afternoon off work to take my mom Christmas shopping and out to dinner.

I have always subscribed to the adage that you can "catch more flies with honey than vinegar."
I think it's true in parenting, in dog training, and in dealing with most human beings. If you reward the behavior you want to encourage, you'll be more successful (not to mention happier!) than if you're constantly punishing behavior that's wrong. How much more peaceful would life be if people operated on that principle?

I do believe that "what goes around comes around." In the ever spinning cycle of earth and life, there are difficult times and wonderful times. Sometimes, we can help bring one or the other to pass, sometimes it's totally out of our control. One of my favorite verses in the Bible says it perfectly..."To every thing, there is a season, and a time and purpose under heaven." (For those who aren't familiar with the Christian Bible, a group called the Byrd's sang about it in the sixties in a song called Turn, Turn, Turn.)

Sometimes, when life is hard, its difficult not to cry out "What did I do to deserve this?" It's hard to accept that in all of life, bad things happen, especially when it seems your life is filled with more bad than good. There is purpose in all of life's vicissitudes - we learn and grow during those tough times. When I'm going through one of those rough places, those times in life when I'm turning toward the dark side, I ask myself "what is the lesson? what is it I'm supposed to learn?" Although the answer may not be immediately apparent, it usually comes clear to me at some point. And therein lies my reward.

for more thoughts on this topic, go here



Blogger paris parfait said...

My sentiments exactly, Becca. Well said!

Blogger deirdre said...

I'm not a believer in divine punishment or reward either, but definitely believe that actions have consequences. As for the lesson in rough times, I still search for some of those and they refuse to be found. Other times the lesson is so obvious that I'd have to be a big ol' idiot to miss it.

Blogger Bibi said...

Wise words and very well said Becca. I try to remember the '...flies with honey...' too, but can't say I am always successful ;-)

Blogger susanlavonne said...

Amen, sister! Especially the last paragraph...true words written with real finesse.

Blogger NuttersNotes said...

Well said......and way to work in "vicissitudes". Look for that one to reappear in an upcoming post of mine!

Anonymous tinker said...

Wise words indeed. I do believe in positive reinforcement.
I've always loved that song (and the verses inspiring it) as well, though the version I remember loving was by The Byrds - but in the '60s and '70s everyone did versions of each others songs.

Thank you for a great post!

Blogger Remiman said...

Perfectly stated!
I'm on the same page.

Blogger ren.kat said...

yes, but it also says there is a "time to hate" "a time of war" and a "time of peace". Maybe punishments and rewards don't exist, but pleasant and unpleasant things do regardless of cosmic determination? This is a hard prompt. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

Blogger Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

Beautifully stated, Becca. Looking for the lesson, the growth opportunity, in every situation. Love it. Much peace, JP

Blogger Star said...

I like the tack you've taken here. I agree with Dierdre that all actions have consequences and I think that the immediate consequences are sometimes seen as the end result when, in fact, there are long-term consequences that must be considered beyond the immediate result.

Blogger b/sistersshoes said...

Catching flies with honey....always a better outcome :)


Blogger Rethabile said...

"I don't feel I'll be rewarded just because I spent some extra time helping an elderly neighbor with her Christmas cards, or took an afternoon off work to take my mom Christmas shopping and out to dinner."
You most certainly won't be rewarded in cash, or in any other way, except that...

when you do such a deed, you're automatically rewarded by the wholeness and happiness you (probably) feel afterwards.

Blogger Jerri said...

Thought provoking, well written post, Becca. I'm such a believer in karma, though, that it's tough to embrace wholeheartedly. For me, karma's not a one-to-one thing, not a I'll-do-this-to-get-that thing. Instead I find that being kind to others makes me happy; doing what I believe is right (the best I can) makes me feel whole.

Come to think of it, what I'm describing isn't too far from what you've written (and much more clearly).

Again, thanks for making me think more carefully about this, Becca.

Blogger chandra said...


we are here for one purpose only... to spread joy, to spread laughter, to spread happiness, to spread peace, to be kind , to be compassionate and loving.... in words and in deeds.this i say. this i practise.... and this i ahve tried to portray through my art.

i invite you to meet me at :

warm wishes



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