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Keeping Score

February 6, 2019


We all keep score.

But in this last few years of political and technological upheaval, the unending scorecards are unavoidable. Everything has ratings. Every event is a TV show.

From APGAR to Gallop we are measured: ratings and grades are part of life, including the final grade of living or dying. Making the grade is bad enough, but judging the factoids of others is an easy step away from our own measure.

If everything boils down to passing, failing, excelling, falling short there is no end to inadequacy. No matter how well you perform, others grade out higher than you.

If you give to get, will you ever get enough?

If you receive the unearned, worse, the undeserved, it destroys the ledger of transactional reason. If life is an equation of justice, or karma, or approval the reality of love is simply bogus. No one deserves the love of a child. No one creates that love. No one gives it a grade.

But parents, my parents, can create the Report Card of worth that validates or mocks that love. Performance is necessary for keeping score. We come to give in order to receive, rather than give because we love.

All of the endless elections, economic stats, Pew Poll results pile up worth and failure – high and deep – for all to see the skimming surface of “results”. The binaries of Good and Bad, Win or Lose, Enough or Inadequate end up being scores that make hard Pass/Fail outcomes.

There is less understanding the more judgements are given to us. We wallow in the reinforcement of our conclusions to the point of validating prejudice. I know those who live their lives by the defendable measurables. Hell, I often do. I bet you do too.

But if we turn the screen off and listen, there is far more to live with than the Report Card. If we listen we hear that there are “why’s” as well as “what’s”. “How” is a complex understanding, not a conclusive GO/NO GO reaction.

Reactionary standing up or sitting down in response to the conclusions offered is easy. Consideration is rarer than ever because the huge machine of the Internet-ization of all reality pre-digests the zillions of data points we might consider.

What do we consider before we react? Rather than consider who we are, what we are seeing, we are most often subjected to Click Bait. The grading has been done before we see the Report Card. Our oerfnance is simply reactionary. We only need to react, to “Like” or “Friend’ or ‘Share” to prove our worth, our reality in the sea of robots.

The more the grading cranks on, the more we lose ourselves, and if we are the creation of God, we lose any meaning beyond what that grading tells us. We simply fall into the deafening maelstrom of keeping score.

We stop listening. To ourselves. To others. To something more than the moment. We know the score, but we do not know more.

We live in the screens we oggle. Fed by them, but unaware of the hunger we all have to be loved because the grading is constant and transfixing.

The first IPhone came out a decade ago. It was a gateway drug to an addiction to grading with every Swipe Right/Swipe Left. We become important because the New World tells us so. We are the score that is kept. Our swipes and clicks are recorded like each and every hair is known by God. But despite all preoccupation the InterWebNets are not God. Oh, and if you believe in something more important than us, God made that InterWebNet hole we have fallen into.

But life is not fair, Karma is incidental to creating the balance sheet that defines it. There is no reason a baby should or shouldn’t die. Why we are loved by that baby.

No Instagram reaction is a reason to love, and there are very few, if any, reasons to hate with the finality our Score Cards impose on all of us.


As the sides of the aisle rise and fall, clap and Boo, shout or sit in stony derision, the dialogue becomes monosyllabic.

“Right” and “Wrong’ is necessary to make our world safe, simple laws of protection, basic moral norms are part of making life livable. But the extension of these laws into the vagaries of our own lives, the love of others, the way we see ourselves is dehumanizing, but worse, it kills the validity of unmerited love.

Whether I like it or not, I am loved.

I can not justify it. I cannot disprove it.

I can try to ignore it, explain it, invalidate it. But love is as real as beauty. If we grade beauty, we lose it. Keeping score on joy ends it.

The painful grotesqueries of politics, shrill justifications of fear or nauseating comfort of self-righteousness are being fed to bursting in this world we have wrought.

I think I need to live more in the world I do not understand, the world of unmerited love. It is hard to justify. And that is the point.


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