“It’s gonna cost ya”

January 15 2018

It’s 18 years since the release of Pretty Woman, the movie that shot Julia Roberts to superstardom. George H. W. Bush was President, Kevin Costner was the flavour of the month (in an early scene, Field of Dreams is playing in a Hollywood Boulevard theatre), and the world’s favourite princess, a real one, would soon officially separate from her husband, seven years before her death.

There’s a moment early in the movie in which Roberts’ character Vivien, the prostitute who will eventually find ever-after happiness with a billionaire, discusses the agreement that will have her at the ‘beck’n’call’ of Richard Gere’s character, Edward. Vivien is naked, covered in bubbles, singing along to Prince’s Kiss. Edward is buttoned up, literally and figuratively, ready to play Master of the Universe. 

Vivien is willing to hang on Edward’s arm for a week, to help him accomplish his business goals. But, she stresses, ‘it’s gonna cost ya’. 

‘It’s gonna cost ya.’

Edward and Vivien quickly come to an agreement. Each knew that user pays – in cash, in kind. You want, you pay. You deliver, you’re rewarded; you don’t, look out. In the corporate free-for-all that was the ’90s, when real-life Masters played the markets like some of us play Monopoly, everyone knew the rules and what happened if you broke them. 

Yet despite all that’s happened since then, it would seem we’ve forgotten how our actions cost us.

Young people choose not to attend lectures, not to study, and yet are permitted to pass university subjects and entire programs – and still we question why they can’t spell, or multiply, or put sentences together.

Political parties around the world ignore the rights and the wrongs of the people, then wonder why they’re not re-elected.

Banks and utilities and other massive companies ignore their customers’ complaints, their requests, their desire to be treated with respect and dignity, and are forced to play catch-up after avoidable issues are aired and magnified in social media. 

People in authority use their power to force others to bend to their will, and wonder why they are forced from the positions they have held for years and decades.

But each of us, also seems to have forgotten, or choose to ignore, that what we do, or don’t do, has ramifications. That there is cause, and effect. Work, and reward. Action, and reaction.

We use resources as if they’re replaceable. We discard senior citizens from our businesses, our industries, our society, as if they have nothing left to offer and give. We judge, without consideration of how our judgement can feel to those who ‘earned’ it.

The obvious examples that emerged during 2017 came after the election in November 2016 of Donald Trump – something that wouldn’t have happened if more Americans voted; if they had used their democratic right to choose. 

As I write this, it’s the second week of January 2018. It’s still a new year, and there’s time to set the compass for the months ahead. I’m not going to set a resolution, except for this: I want to remember when I’m contemplating what lies ahead that what I do, or don’t do, is gonna matter. What I choose to do or not do – with my time, with my energy, with my brainpower – has consequences.

It’s gonna cost me. 

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