I totally subscribe to being raised on ideals – ideals of love, selflessness, and valour especially. However, I have observed that many of those raised with such ideals simply grow up naive. Somewhere in their upbringing, something was left out. And so, these individuals grow up taking on the world based on these ideals – and end up brutally hurt. They go out believing that the world really does work based on those ideals. In reality, they hit a wall when they find out the contrary.
What was missing in their training was a balance – they were not taught that while they must seek to live by ideals, the vast majority of human beings by default do not live so, but by established patterns of behaviour, many of which are contrary to those ideals. As a rule, most people will stay self-centred till death. If you belong to the minority that has been raised to be selfless, chances are that you will get hurt deeply if you do not understand this.
Please trust. But if you trust a human being like you would trust God or an angel, you are naive. The problem is you.
As an example, you will give and give, and people will demand and demand. When you need them to give back, chances are that you will be left to your own devices. Don’t believe everything you hear. Everyone claims to need friends. But most don’t really want a friend. They want a super hero – someone they can run to for help at any time, and go on with their lives till the next emergency shows up. They want Super Man. Forget this at your own risk.
In practice, you must learn to use established patterns to your own advantage. For example, if you need someone’s help, make a proposition; don’t ask for help. Ask yourself, “What can I offer this person to make it worth their efforts?” You see, almost anyone will “help” if there is something in it for them. That is how to use established human behavioural patterns to your benefit. That kind of behaviour may be strange to you who have been raised to be selfless, but if you want to achieve anything in this world, please wake up, do yourself a favour and learn to use it.
Also, come to terms with the fact that it is okay sometimes for you to ask, “What’s in it for me?” too. After all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Sometimes, it is a thin line between valour and stupidity, between selflessness and foolishness. Be wise as a serpent, without throwing away your innocence and goodness. Wisdom and goodness are not mutually exclusive.
In living and in raising children and protégées, ideals and established patterns of human behaviour must be taught hand in hand. Teach only ideals and you are setting up your wards for shock and heartbreaks.
In interacting with people, carry your ideals with you, but don’t forget for one second that people are not likely to respond to you based on those ideals but based on established patterns of human behaviour. This is the only way to stay safe in this jungle. That is the only way to ensure that you do not end up at the bottom of the food chain.
In an ideal world, a lion and a zebra would hug and go their separate ways…
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