It’s a concept that humans created. Deserve comes from the human need for justice, for reciprocity, for a clear line of choice. It’s not inherent to the universe. No one deserves anything in vast universe of things.
We are, we exist, we die. And all the parts of us, the little bitty parts that make us will just keep on going. Atoms will make new bonds and reform into new things – without any recollection or emotional link to the person that is you. Would the atoms that make you be more or less deserving than you are?
We want justice. We want fairness. But the universe did not spawn in some giant balanced equality where all our efforts and all our character is weighed and a portion equal to some nebulous but personally experienced fair amount is meted out to each of us. There is only time passing and entropy unfolding. And none of it has any inherent reciprocity. None of the atoms is deserving or not. They exist but they don’t have a qualifying existence.
BUT. Entropy and time did create, in this brief moment and space, humans. And within those humans in a nearly universal instinct of fairness, justice and reciprocity. This has been built into our social structures and we have written laws and courts to enforce them. We also have unwritten but even more powerful rules.
And those unwritten rules are everywhere. The sense that people deserve what they get is part of it. Rules that define deserving. Rules that defining the ways you earn what you deserve. Each of us weighing our lives and other people’s lives in some mental scale that has more emotional value than clarity of definition.
But those rules are all just made up. They evolve with cultures and civilizations. Humans have an instinct for reciprocity and we project that instinct into this entirely imaginary idea of deserving.
If you dismantle the idea of people deserving things, you start to see how broken our cultures are. How we use punishment in many overt and subtle ways to keep a hierarchy inside of our civilization. To keep a few people at the top and the rest of us in a scaled ladder to the bottom.
We use the idea of deserving to keep people in poverty.
We use the idea of deserving to put people in jail instead of helping them change.
We use the idea of deserving to dole out food and shelter and medicine.
We use the idea of deserving every day. In our own lives. In our own choices.
We project this qualifier on every person we know. And we weigh their worth. A worth that is ENTIRELY imaginary. And yet given power by universal acceptance.