People as Prey

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 —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: Or not.


6 thoughts on “People as Prey

  1. This is it: “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. ”

    But narcissists do this because they simply do not see, other people and the worth of exploring them wholly. They instead try to detract what is valuable for them, trampling on the rest because it is unimportant. But to remain in such an exchange you’d have to have a faulty self regard, because it is a dry, limited, stingy exchange. These are not givers, and even though they can disguise their taking, they cannot hide a steely. barely able to connect heart.

    They cannot keep up the facade.

  2. Yes. Thanks for your comment. We’re not obliged to hang out with people who simply want to use us in whatever way for whatever reason. We can be kind, generally speaking, but we don’t have to be saints or idiots–or “marks.” Allowing ourselves to be used isn’t more “spiritual.”

    • I agree, but it’s really a head trip to finally draw those boundaries. Because the longer you keep up the link, the more you tend to want to explain the behavior away – until the abusive becomes blatant toward us or someone else close.

      In fact with regard to one of the people I was close with (and had to cut ties with because the manipulation was so incredible inappropriate), I tell myself what you said all the time. But, I feel BAD for disconnecting. 😦

      • Yes, we feel bad because we’re decent people. Of course. In fact, right now I’m dealing with not replying to someone’s email–I know her, and basically though she’s a needy nudge, she’s harmless. (But irritating, poor thing.) It’s six of one and five and three-quarters of the other here.

      • I was reading a diagnosed narcissist’s blog and she said the manipulation is a coping mechanism from childhood. And I’m not explaining your friend’s behavior away (or mine’s) Lol. Cuz obviously, we both know what’s going on. But…these people may never be able to build enduring adult relationships.

        Because of the nudging, guilting, manipulation of every variety we can’t imagine.

        Didn’t understand your last sentence… six of one?

  3. I meant the balance of what to do is nearly even but will come down on one side or the other. I think people can change–it just isn’t easy and they have to want to change. They have to understand why change would be of benefit to them. My mother was quite narcissistic, so I’m keyed into that.

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