Monday, May 11, 2009

Kenetic Kindness 5/11/09

Self pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it we can never do anything wise in this world.

Helen Keller
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How nice to see you.
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I haven't flown in many years but I remember there was a time and maybe still is when the flight attendant would give a lecture to the passengers about safety. One part of that lecture had to do with the oxygen masks which would drop down in the event of the loss of air in the aircraft. The instruction included the statement that if you were traveling with a child to put the mask on yourself first and then on the child. At first it would seem very self-serving to do that. But it was logical, for if you ran out of air yourself you might faint before you got the mask on your kid and then both of you were in trouble.

There is a philosophy in this world that says we must take care of ourselves first before we can help anyone else. "Take care of number one." Unfortunately many people stop there and never get to the "anyone else" part of the equation.

Two things I have found difficult to get, even if I ask for them, are approval and sympathy. There's a quotation from someone that reads "The best way to get approval is not to need it." Well, we all need some degree of approval from time to time, and some people seem to rake it in without effort. Others also seem to gather sympathy as fast as hens lay eggs. The rest of us just have to muddle along through life without.

Wisdom is a process of stretching, reaching out, looking into some sort of universe, earthly or otherwise, understanding what's happening, communicating one's observations to others, fixing things that aren't working right and clearing up a mess even if no one knows you've done it. Wisdom does more than imply a regard for other people, it absolutely demands it. Nothing good has ever been done for the world by someone who is totally self involved to the exclusion of others, except by accident.

Self righteousness, self justification, self indulgence, self importance, self pity, the whole nasty swamp of selfishness is, next to cruelty and oppression, one of the worst pits the human can fall into. And we have to watch our steps all the time to make sure we don't fall into it. Getting out of and staying out of the mud pie of selfishness is a very healthy way of taking "care of number one" because it's certain to allow us to take care of others.

I could address other, more insidious, forms of selfishness such as superficial modesty, false friendship and a predatory interest in others. Maybe I will some day.

But for now I will gratefully accept your approval as long as it doesn't enhance my self importance. I will graciously take your sympathy if it doesn't feed my self pity. As for my approval and my sympathy, it's yours without asking.

DB
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Do what you have to do with faith and joy.
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3 comments:

Beth said...

There are a couple of good "selfs," though: self-esteem and self-confidence. Obviously, they can be carried to the extreme, but I believe that a healthy dose of both is essential to success, whether professionally or personally. Hugs, Beth

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

One of the tradgedies of our society is that we have become more individualized, taking away from the sense of community. The best feeling there is is doing something for others.

Jeannette said...

Very interesting and insightful posting.