RohiniPracticing, Reflections, Uncategorized

I am writing this out of a deep sense of sadness as we keep heading down a road that hurts us all. Many years ago, I worked with an eleven-year-old who was extremely troubled. His parents were a big part of the problem, though there was no recognition of that fact. What I heard over and over again was the phrase, “He was such a happy-go-lucky kid. I don’t know what happened.” From this and several other situations, I grew to realize that “happy-go-lucky” is in truth a euphemism for someone whose heedless destructiveness is obscured by a bubble of carefreeness. Depending on how we have been raised, we can believe we are fun-loving without realizing that our fun comes always at the expense of others.

We talk among ourselves and in the media about addiction and epidemics of all kinds. Happy-go-lucky is an epidemic. These fourchotomies show how this public health problem manifests.


Happy-go-lucky (easygoing, fun, carefree) Uptight / humorless
Heedless / destructive Conscious / responsible


“Happy-go-lucky” Careful / reflective
Spontaneous / unburdened Rigid / depressive


If instead of facing this epidemic we continue to call our behavior fun, then as we grow our destruction will also grow. We then will find ourselves in a situation where we believe we only misbehaved for “twenty minutes”  when in fact we have a long history of wrong action that got us to that twenty minutes.

People who are called happy-go-lucky generally do not present as mean. They appear fun-loving but are careless and reckless, and they can produce the same destruction as a vicious person. It is usually a surprise to others that these people are found to be in trouble, and they continue to be called happy-go-lucky. They are the inevitable products of the destructive belief that the good life is a life free of responsibilities and consequences. A carefree life.


Indulged Disciplined
Fun / free No fun / imprisoned


Lascivious Safe
Fun Humorless


Flippant Considerate / respectful
Witty / fun / playful Boring / unimaginative


On a tear Easygoing / lets be / fun loving
Taking care of business Confused / befuddled / unclear


Instigator / incite Secure / nonattached
Inspiring / funny/ playful Apathetic / disconnected / unresponsive


If we look at the above fourchotomies, we see “fun” in every one of them. As a culture we talk about safety, but we really are going for fun. So children are encouraged to have fun. Parents are supposed to be fun. School is to be fun. And on whose terms? The children’s. How scary is that? How unsafe is that?

We are now a culture that sees responsibility as nothing but a burden. Our self-absorption leaves no room for accountability, and the consequences are horrific. Recently in Virginia, a woman dropped off her three-year-old at day care and proceeded to work. After work, she again got in the car and drove all the way to collect her eight-month-old before going on to pick up her three-year-old. Only the eight-month-old had never been dropped off. The baby was still in the car—in the car all day and now dead. The mother hadn’t noticed. She is now facing charges.

When bringing up my two sons, I always spoke about causes and consequences. Many people disapproved of the way I raised my children to be adults. The belief was that parents should insulate, not expose. My young sons followed the police cruiser in which I accompanied that happy-go-lucky eleven-year-old to a psychiatric hospital. They recognized how destructive his decisions had been. They saw the consequences of happy-go-lucky, and understood that we each have agency and choice. It was an important lesson for everyone.

If we are all supposed to be happy-go-lucky, then there are no adults. We have removed adulthood as a desirable choice. We all aspire to remain our idea of children: carefree and with no responsibilities or consequences. We have reached a place where we do not reflect on our own actions and how we are subtly heading toward those “twenty minutes” or eight hours of devastation. We are longing for our good ole days, which never existed except in our heads. The truth is, if we were to actually be responsible and discern the consequences before we proceeded, if we were conscious and awake to our lives, we would not be looking at the destruction in our wake.


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