Counterintuitives: It’s all about you

November 13th, 2008 | by obc |
image by Heidi & Matt

image by Heidi & Matt

What you do in life affects you more than anyone else. So, while it isn’t really all about you – see Biggie #3 – your actions don’t nearly have the same impact on others as they do on you.

Say there’s a classmate, a co-worker, or just somebody in your social circle whose words or actions make him or her not very popular.  The bad rap might be well deserved, that’s for sure.  But every time you ostracize that person – even if you’re fully justified – you are not being kind to another human being.

Say you roll through a stop sign at an empty intersection.  It’s largely a technicality, right?  Nobody was there, anyway.  Well, that’s true, but what happens is that now, you’re a tiny bit more desensitized to that stop sign and to all stop signs, in general.  So, when the same intersection is busy, will you brake hard enough and early enough to not cause other drivers to worry?

OK, what about something as harmless as filling our a survey?  The interviewer (or, alternatively, is pestering you, and you’re in a rush, anyhow, and really, who cares?  They must know that half the results can be thrown out, because some people give random/false answers.  So, you decide that for today, you’re Pieter van den Hoogenband and make over $150,000, since you’re a big-wig at Vandelay Industries. The interviewer or surverymonkey still get paid, so nobody’s hurt, right? That’s true, and most people would categorize this as harmless fun.  But the fact remains that you were dishonest (even if comically), and now the needle between truth and lie has crept a bit towards the center.

These situations are harmless to others, but not so to you.  the classmate/co-worker and you will part ways, the intersection will get a traffic light, and the survey results will be forgotten.  The three choices that you made, however, will be added to the long list of choices that shape you as a person.  What kind of a person do you want to be?

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