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Funny You Should Ask: Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side?


By Stephen Barth

Unfortunately, we do not have a definitive answer for the greener-grass question, and this may cause great consternation. But let’s narrow it down. First, hyperbolic words such as “always” and “never” are rarely accurate (please remember this for your next multiple choice exam).

So, the grass could be greener, but like many vexing thoughts the answer depends on the variables: how often is the new grass fertilized, watered and loved? Are we comparing the same shades of green on both sides? And, of course, if one side is in Kentucky then the grass there might be blue instead of green, invalidating the entire thesis! We do have some adages to help us ponder: “The devil you know is often better than the devil you don’t.”

But also, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.”

I would also argue, since that’s what lawyers do, one first needs to ask if they will be able to even scale the fence as it often takes courage and ingenuity to get over to the other side. But we do know that happiness comes from within, so if one is not happy in his current pasture then — even if the grass is exceptionally greener — it is likely they will discover that happiness, alas, remains elusive. And envy disappoints us all. In the end, we make our own weather or, as John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, concluded, “The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, or a Hell of Heaven.”

Barth is a professor of law and leadership in the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. An attorney, he is a founding member of the Hospitality Industry Bar Association and once wrote an article titled “Foodservice Liability: Rocks in the Refried Beans.”

Cartoon image of Eric Gerber

About Eric Gerber

As a former newspaper guy, I made a living out of asking serious questions. As the University’s communications director, I have to come up with serious answers. But, from time to time, I get a little silly and encourage UH’s otherwise serious academics and researchers to take a light-hearted approach and respond to our simple-minded inquiries with tongue firmly in cheek.