Foreclosure tantrums

Joey Garcia

I am furious with my former neighbors, both of whom lost their homes to foreclosure. The guy with twin teenage sons couldn’t afford to keep the place after his divorce. The three of them ransacked the house, ripping out tile and even sinks. They are moving into an apartment but taking the sink and tiles with them. The couple next door punched holes in walls and broke windows. When I went over to see what the racket was about, they claimed they were getting their anger out. I pointed out the damage to the neighborhood, but they claimed it was their house and they could do what they wanted. Both of these neighbors spent more on their mortgages and lifestyle than they could afford. I can’t believe their selfishness. I am so angry every time I look at those houses and worry I will take it out on anyone I catch destroying a foreclosed home. Any ideas?

Yup. With apologies to cowboy crooner Willie Nelson, you could spread this message: “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to feel entitled.” Entitlement, the idea that the world owes us, is a direct chute to greed. Those 1990s era motivational speakers who seeded public television and corporate conferences with the “You deserve!” message did not serve the public good. They simply inspired people to swing from the low self-esteem fear of not being good enough to the inflated ego belief: “I deserve to have whatever will make me feel good about myself.” So “You deserve!” caused people with salaries in the mortal range to get a jones for living like they were rich and famous. That denial is partly why they didn’t question the obviously screwy loan numbers or their own anemic budgets. Once immersed in the “I deserve” illusion, people imagine everyone wants them to have whatever they want. So home buyers who believed they deserved more were matched with loan agents who wanted more, too. And, yes, then a few of those loan agents preyed on the elderly and poorly educated. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Your righteous anger about damage caused by the childish tantrums of foreclosed homeowners must be put to use. Channel it into volunteering with a consumer organization that protects against predatory-lending practices or by starting a neighborhood association. It’s also healing to consider the ridiculousness of a grown man living in an apartment with a stack of used tiles and a sink from his former life. Laughter is often the best medicine.

I notice I have a tendency to put people on pedestals and then feel really insecure and uncomfortable around them. I can’t seem to stop, and when I do it, I tend to either nearly worship the person or avoid them altogether. It’s a problem at work and in my hobbies, too. The other issue is that I notice almost a sense of glee when one of the people I admire falls from grace. I feel badly about all this but can’t seem to stop. Any ideas?

Stop putting people on pedestals. You do it because you are addicted to feeling insecure. In order to feed your addiction you must imagine someone as bigger and more important than you. But if you devote your energies to seeing the good in yourself and changing beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that are problematic, you won’t have time to create false idols. And yes, anytime we create idols, we must topple them. That’s a cruel thing to do to another human. It’s better to see reality and not to project perfection, huh?

Meditation of the week
If you want to understand the difference between love and infatuation, see (500) Days of Summer at Tower Theatre. Better still, take a teenager with you and have an honest conversation about the realities of romantic relationships.

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