My first recollection of seeing a TV commercial touting that I deserved a break was in the 1970s from a company who used a red-headed clown mascot. Today, I hear commercials touting that people who are injured should get the dollars they deserve.

I think of a deserving person as someone who gets something because of something they did, not because they existed. One meaning of deserve is when someone expends their own time and labor to merit something they receive. A baker who prepares a wonderful cake deserves to be compensated. Do drunks who crash their car into a tree deserve to have their hospital bill paid by the arresting agency?

Countless people have no clue what justice means, but they’re quick to say that they want it. Justice means fairness, impartiality, objectivity or neutrality. Unfortunately, the word justice, or the concept of justice, has been grossly distorted by a myriad of people.

Do people deserve to be financially compensated solely because they’re injured? It depends. I think of our soldiers who come home with an American flag draped over their coffins. Soldiers fight for everyone’s justice and some are rewarded with death or dismemberment. Many others are compensated with a mental disability. Where is the justice?

When interviewed about the loss of a child, many grieving parents say things like, “He was such a good kid.” The Urban Dictionary defines a good kid as a teen who is adept and innovative at avoiding getting caught when getting into trouble. John Rosemond of the Gaston Gazette says that after telling stimulating and sociopathic things, a parent will say, “But he was a really good kid.” Really good kids don’t violently defy their parents, malign their parents with offensive remarks, or disregards their assigned personal duty. Really good kids don’t ignore responsibility or start turmoil at home.

Do these children create an allusion, an illusion, or delusion? An allusion is a statement intended to call something to mind without actually saying it. A writer might use an allusion so that readers will not learn something until later in the story. It is an indirect or passing reference, kind of like a subliminal message. A child can imply love by softly or sweetly talking about someone’s hospitality.

An illusion is similar to a fantasy. It is something that is likely to be wrongly perceived by the brain. Some magicians use sleight-of-hand to make their audience think that they saw something they actually did not. Children might claim that they are leaving home for a study-hall as they shove a bulging 9mm weapon under their clothing.

A delusion, often a sign of a mental disorder, is a personal belief or idea that exists when evidence shows otherwise. It is similar to a hallucination that feels real but is not. Parents may want their child to be the model of society so much that they can’t see the gallon of red paint spilled on their white carpet. If their child takes out the trash or says I love you just once, that child might become a delusional saint.

Everyone has heard the adage “Kids will be kids.” It usually means happy-go-lucky, young, and often careless. Parents who show their children that they will make good decisions, regardless of painful emotions, are winners. Children who are the center of their parent’s universe, often have issues. Children would be wise to focus more on what they have to give society, and less on what society can give them. A little discipline doesn’t hurt children as much as overprotective parents can cause future hurt. No one is perfect, not even a precious little child.

It’s customary to show children that the best way to conquer fear is to face it head-on. Expecting children to perform well is healthy, but expecting them to be perfect will normally backfire. Teaching children that it’s okay to fail, and to learn that they do not have to always be great at everything, is normal. It’s also normal for parents to want to give their child everything they didn’t have growing up. But failing to assign household chores or requiring an afterschool job may not be instilling the best responsible citizenship to a future adult.

Children need proper justice and all the things they rightly deserve. They need authentic reality, not bogus delusions. Everyone is deserving of something, but if that something is imaginary justice, something that’s not deserved, some form of hidden cost will always be on the horizon.

Charlie Sewell is a retired Powder Springs police chief. Email him at retiredchiefsewell@gmail.com.

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