A man’s character is most evident by how he treats those who are not in a position either to retaliate or reciprocate.—Paul Eldridge
One thing guaranteed to make most of us angry is to be regarded as prey. And that, of course, is the hallmark of our age: We citizens and consumers are looked at as so much fodder for the predators’ pockets.
But who are those hoping to pick us clean? Well, since this attitude is a primary moral failing of our age, just about everyone, beginning with the government and ending with the homeless panhandler on the street corner—yes, I do give him money—but including any number of folks in between. (All those phone calls from strange numbers. Do they really hook any business from that?)
So why do we look at one another as so many ripe and succulent plums to be plucked down and ingested? Someone might suggest that’s because we’re a highly mobile society and don’t live in communities very much anymore, don’t know our neighbors. But actually a lot of this type of thing goes on in communities. Bernie Madoff, who stole so much money from his peers, the number was staggering—between 12 and 20 billion dollars http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Madoff —took the money from people and institutions within his social group, including Jewish charities.
The reason for all this predatory behavior is that few people in our times really understand that life is more about what we can do for others (not simply by way of money) and less about what we can derive for ourselves. The irony is that those who do get the most out of life are those who simply give the most. A life well lived begins with an open heart and love of others. That warm, gushy feeling when we’re touched? That’s the stuff that a life of value is built upon.
I’m not asking anyone to lose his intelligence. We can still be guided toward the good and away from the bad while trying to be generous with everyone. We’re not here to be food for the narcissist who is trying to bag and tag her emotional or financial victims or sell us items and services we have no need of. Let’s sidestep those types. But that doesn’t mean we have to harden our hearts—just that we can open our eyes.
In addition, we have to be wary of our own inclination to see others as “object,” to try to sell our own wares in such a way that we become manipulative—in commerce or in love. The hard sell in any aspect of our lives, the wanting from others what they wouldn’t otherwise freely give is a fault within us that has to be seen and worked on with a hope that we’ll only travel in the direction, and only demand, what will serve.
The cost of seeing others as prey, the cost of making others our prey is tremendous. We detract from the enjoyment of these people and of our lives. Our insincerity takes away from our very selves and casts a grey shadow over everything we do. The cost is simply too high for us to indulge our tendency to mimic the behavior so very prevalent in our society.
If you volunteer to be a client, I’ll voluntarily treat you right. I help people with their writing: GHayden2@nyc.rr.com. Or not.