02 March 2007

"Then What the Hell Good Are You, Anyway?"

If you hear the words in the title, the next thing that happens to you may not be pleasant. Most people have the absurd idea that other persons should be "good for something." For example, a woman expects her man to either provide well financially, or be very, very good at other things she values almost as much. A man expects his woman to be sexually available, to keep an attractive appearance and a clean living environment. If the expectations are not met, then "what the hell good are you, anyway?"

A boss expects the worker to provide value to the business at least as great as the salary and benefits package provided by the job, hopefully more. A parent expects the college student to return good grades in exchange for support. Those people sitting down below expect you up on the stage to put on a good show. A driver in the oncoming lane expects you to stay in your own damned lane. If not, "what the hell good are you?"

Social expectations prop up the greater part of the world in which we live. While we want to believe we are valued by others for our inner selves--our "intrinsic" value as people--deep down we know that is not true. True, there are political and religious ideologies that dwell on the intrinsic value of each living person, but in reality people who claim to believe that are the worst form of hypocrite. Give them that excuse they are waiting for to hold you in contempt, and they will happily do so.

"What have you done for me lately?" If the answer is nothing, or worse than nothing, the relationship is in danger of coming to a bad end. People expect you to "hold up your end." What is "your end?" It depends. But you should probably figure that out before your end starts to droop. In personal relationships, things are not spelled out as clearly as in a business or legal contract. The terms of the contract are implied, but still very close to ironclad. Get the picture clear in your mind, in detail. Otherwise, unhappy surprises await you.

Usually the sole exception to the rule is "home." Home is the place where when you go there they have to take you in, said Robert Frost. Something about home can make a hard person soft. The contractual calculus of home is somehow different.

So if you really want to be valued for your "intrinsic worth" in a relationship, you need to make it home. If your boyfriend doesn't see you as "home", you need to understand what he expects from the "contract", or you may be in default, in his mind. But if your hard-hearted boss sees you as "home" somehow, she will do everything she can before firing you, no matter how incompetent you may be. But that's not likely to be the case. More likely, you're on a hair-trigger in most of your relationships. Learn to size up the territory, and tread carefully.

Normally, there would be no need to spell things out so bluntly, but society has taken a very narcissistic, psychologically neotenous direction. Such a society, like a fallen Rome, is ripe for the plucking by more reality driven populations. It either wakes in time to save itself, or it goes the way of most complacent cultures that have rotted from within.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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