MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “selfishness”

The paradox of human nature

https://img00.deviantart.net/ed60/i/2009/035/0/d/greed_by_liol.jpgHumans have an innate and incurable weakness. That of being extremely selfish and greedy. Nothing is ever enough. And more is always what everyone seeks. Because what humans only really care about is appearing to be better, cleverer, richer than everyone else. They want to be talked about – because not being talked about is worse.

They listen, not to understand, but to react. Mostly to things they interpret in their own way. And things they later state they heard differently. Some don’t even listen at all. And most people simply hear what is to their benefit. Everything else passes by unnoticed.

Humans are the creatures in this world that have the power to change things but knowingly decide not to. They are insensitive by will and narcissistic by conviction. Instead of looking for ways to make our living environment better for those to come, we make it worse for those who manage to stay.

We use technology not to improve our survival, but to demonstrate how self-centred we are, feeling the urge to advertise every moment of our lives on social networks instead of caring for those around us and actually living those moments. We create posts instead of memories and feed on “likes” and heart-shaped thumbs-up approvals from digital “friends” we don’t even really know.

We pretend to live but hardly even survive.

And then we spend hours on self-help books and motivational speeches, seminars and tutorials searching for ways to acquire mental health and psychological stability.

We become irritated by everyone else’s attitude and behaviour, yet stubbornly refuse to change our own because we consider ourselves above all others and thus there is no need to alter anything in our own character.

We expect the world to change to fit to our own needs but do nothing to compromise or accommodate ourselves for the world around us.

We are the ones bringing our own demise and downfall. Yet we are experts in always finding someone else to blame. Because it is much easier to give fault to someone else than to be a decent human being and assume responsibility.

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Attention-seekers and their shadows

http://s2.thingpic.com/images/W4/9zPkuowr4cj82ztjQhJ4LM6L.jpegPeople who shine from within don’t need the spotlight. Remember that the next time you see someone trying to draw all the attention onto themselves”.

Grandma Eve always knew what to say. She had a special way of consoling Tina. She knew something was wrong and could even identify what it was without the latter saying a word.

This time it had to do with certain friends that turned out to have been using her in order to become more popular. School was always a difficult place for someone who cared too much and who had a different way of thinking than that of the masses.

To Tina, such people may gain attention but they lose respect. That’s what Grandma Eve pointed out. Even Charles Bukowski had said it: “Beware of those who seek constant crowds; they are nothing alone”.

Attention-seekers are like narcissists. They constantly seek to be the centre of everything even when they have nothing noteworthy to say or show. They are the ones who constantly take selfies, post online, and speak the loudest when in a crowd. They are the ones who don’t understand how (or why) the best parts of life are the ones that aren’t made public. Why you don’t need to be constantly talked about in order to be someone. Or why what matters most is what you make of yourself, how you cultivate your own mind and decide to do something purposeful with your time.

Grandma Eve wrapped her arms around Tina and offered her a freshly baked cookie. Hugs and sweets always had a way of making anyone feel better.

Don’t let attention-seekers bring you down. It’s not that you are not worthy of attention. It’s that you know better how to draw it for the right reasons at the proper time. Just remember that they are focusing the spotlight on themselves because they are trying to fill the gaps inside them. If they were happy with who they are, they wouldn’t need the validation of their worth from others. Always be proud of what you achieve. No matter what anyone else thinks. And never feel ashamed that you are in the shadows at times. It is only further proof that you have light around you”.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Narcissism

When forgiveness is a privilege

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/51a04613e4b0007c06d7c81a/t/57a0f0f8197aea59d470b83f/1470165244816/There is a man on the street, sitting at the same spot on the pavement each day with almost the same clothes, clean and ironed, and a small bag on his side. He sits there watching people pass him by. He holds a sign that reads, “Please forgive me. I’m hungry”. He stays there all day. Every day.

There are others too. They get on buses and trains asking to be forgiven for the intrusion. Asking not to be seen as beggars. Asking for the understanding that their need to survive is greater than their own dignity. They sometimes sell something: a pen, a notebook, a pack of handkerchiefs; solely for the purpose of giving something back in exchange for any money they would receive from anyone who pities them.

Some even have a dog with them. One that sits next to them trembling in the cold, wagging its tail miserably once someone comes a little closer in the hope that they will throw something edible at it. One whose eyes have lost that glow it has as a puppy when it enters the world full of excitement.

Sorrow has many faces. So does despair.

People are brought to the brink of their tolerance, of their ability to survive, that they decide to do what they perhaps vowed never to do: to ask strangers for help.

But they do so without abandoning their dignity. They sometimes are stronger than us, because they acknowledge their inability, the fact that they have nothing to lose because they have already lost it all. They are asking for forgiveness from a world that has cast them aside. They are demonstrating to the society we live in that it has no dignity, no empathy, no respect, if it ignores them and hopes this problem will solve itself.

Forgiveness, they say, is an attribute of the strong.

Yet, instead of requesting our forgiveness, we should be the ones apologising to these people. For disappointing them, for letting them down, for allowing them to see only the ruthless and dark side of life.

Anyone with even the slightest sense of emotion feels ashamed when passing by these people. Because we have food, warm clothes and a roof to go back to. Contrary to them, we still are part of this society, no matter how much we blame it for all the difficulties we have to face. But they have something we lack: the acknowledgement that the reality we live in is fragile. Yet, they are the ones who can better manage happiness and fortune when it comes to them. Because we take these things for granted. And do not appreciate them enough.

Everyone you meet has something they fear, something they love, something they lost, something they are missing, and something they need. It is in the silent ones that you acknowledge everything you have and realise what it is you are missing.

The world and a star

https://www.dhresource.com/0x0/f2/albu/g4/M01/B1/40/rBVaEVb_gaWAKHKHAADUsZQWqqQ077.jpgThe footsteps in the snow were still there when he woke. It was the last thing she left him when she slammed the door the night before.

She was tired of fighting. She was tired of the sudden mood swings. She was exhausted that every time everything seemed almost perfect, something – the tiniest glitch – would come along to ruin it all.

And it was usually an action incited by another person.

With Harry’s consent.

Of course.

Because Bertha knew well that if he had not wanted it to happen, he could simply say no. He could set his limits. He could actually show his girlfriend that he respected her. That he heard her when she told him repeatedly that she was bothered by certain behaviour. That he was loyal to her alone. Things, that if were the other way round, Harry would not have reacted so calmly or tolerate it all.

Bertha tried to be the bigger person.

But sometimes, even the strongest people break too.

Because all a person truly wants, is the certainty that the person they love will choose them over everyone else, under any circumstance.

She gave him a choice.  She shouldn’t have had to.

But he did not choose her.

She threw away the balloons and the present she was to give him during the surprise party she had organised for him the next day.

It didn’t matter now.

He had not chosen her.

He had placed everything else above what she thought was something that would last through hail and storm.

She would have given him the world. But he was too stubborn to even give her a star.

 

When you love a woman
You tell her that she’s really wanted
When you love a woman you tell her that she’s the one…”
                                                   (Have you ever really loved a woman – Bryan Adams)

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Loyal

The story of a bad elf

http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/christmas-elf-laying-edge-26851791.jpg

In a cold snowy hill, there lived an elf

Who was completely and always enwrapped in himself.

People around him called him a Grinch

For all he only wanted was to be filthy rich.

He was stubborn and bad-tempered,

Never smiled or remembered

Any of the good that people had done in the past,

Because for him nothing ever was meant to last.

Life had left him bitter and sour,

He had felt pain by the hour,

Now cared less with every year

And was hoping that money would instead bring him cheer.

But this season he learnt a lesson

That would be hard to forget.

For in his possession

Came a small statuette.

It resembled his first love

A girl as young as dawn,

The one who broke his heart

And bade him begone.

As he saw it, a tear ran down his cheek

And became ice as it fell

Then another followed in his freak,

As though he had toppled a well.

He began to understand,

That money was not the goal.

It would not bring him happiness,

Or the love of the other half of his soul.

So he radically changed it all,

Made the neighbors doubt their eyes,

For what they saw was a man changed

As though he had suddenly won a lottery prize.

And then, as the little things made the difference,

She appeared like a light in the distance,

Unexpectedly she arrived in the night,

Falling onto him, like a radiant light.

So, the Grinch became a happy elf,

Realizing that we are all worth more than we believe ourselves,

That what we seek cannot be found with might,

But only if we search deep in our hearts and broaden our sight.

The elephant in the closet

elephantinthelivingroom2When it was just a young calf, the little elephant was adopted by a rich high-class, very well-off family for no other reason because they could do so, and because their toddler son had become fascinated by the picture of the animal in a book he had, that he simply had to have one for his own. Most of the first few weeks were spent with the toddler running after the little elephant, tugging at its trunk and rejoicing whenever it squirt water back at it in an unsuccessful attempt to get the kid to stop.

As time passed by, the toddler grew older and found other interests. The elephant wasn’t the biggest fascination of his life anymore, but he did often still play with him. One rainy day, he had the idea of playing hide and seek. With the elephant. The elephant was to go hide.

The boy counted to 100, got distracted at 49, wondered off for half an hour, returned to count from one again and, well, two hours later he went to seek the elephant.

By now, the elephant was almost full-grown. So, really, where could an elephant hide? Mind you, the boy lived in a mansion, so it was quite easy to get lost in there. Or, in the boy’s case, get tired. After around half an hour of searching, the boy gave up and was then called for dinner. His mind drifted to other things and he soon went to bed.

The elephant had hidden in the basement closet.

They say elephants never forget. But people do. The boy forgot about the elephant and it was literally months before he remembered that he once had such a “pet”. But he never reached the closet. Because of laziness, of over-privilege, of low-concentration capacity? There were many reasons. Reasons that the elephant could not understand. For in its miserable, unnatural life, it was locked up, voluntarily at first and forcefully later as the closet door could not open from the inside.

The elephant perished in the closet of one of the most lavish houses people could ever build. But he became witness to the truth that appearances are deceitful. Because no matter the grandness of the house, the hearts of the people who occupied it were nonexistent.

Elephants never forget. But some people don’t even remember.

Barry’s flight out

GoodfeathersIt was windy that day. Barry remembered it well. He lost three feathers in that whirlwind that took his town by literally a storm. It was the pain from the third feather being ruthlessly plucked out from his tail that made him take the decision. He was going to go to the city.

Life in a big city was not easy for a pigeon. It was not easy for anyone actually from what he witnessed. He had to fight off human scavengers near the dumpsters in search of food. And no matter how slowly you closed up onto someone sitting on a bench somewhere, they would for some reason “shoo” you away instead of throw you a breadcrumb or something. People in the city were rude. That is what Barry figured a few days after he took the giant flight to move out of his tiny town.

Expectations of course are not always met and Barry found himself in a situation quite different to what he had imagined. In the city you always risked being run over. By cars, by bicycles, motorbikes, rollerblades, even by these ‘people’ on foot. They didn’t care that you were trying to munch away on that big piece of bread you found lying on the floor, or that you were in a hurry to gulp it down before some other big pigeon of the ‘Goodfeathers’ clan came and grabbed it from you. No, all they cared about was that you were in their way. Half the times they didn’t even pay attention to you.

Of course the fact that Barry was quite small compared to the fat pigeons of the city, did not help his case either.

Barry found it rough in the city. There was too much noise, too many people, too many pigeons, and not enough food for all of them. And they were all too egocentric. He had been in the city for a week and had made no friends. Hardly anyone would talk to him at all. Instead he had been pushed over a branch he was sleeping on one night for ‘trespassing private territory’; he had a close encounter with a motorbike helmet; had an ‘unfortunate accident’ on a shiny car top that was parked underneath the tree he was taking a nap in and got violently yelled at; and had to wrestle for his daily crumbs with a whole bunch of pumped-up pigeons.

That night with the owl hooting under the full moon and the car horns filling out the silence that should have been, he decided to put an end to his city expedition.

Living in a city was exciting. But you had to be rough to endure life with such high adrenaline levels. Barry preferred the breeze of his town; the gossip he exchanged with his friends every morning, the fact that the neighbor had named all the pigeons that resided in the tree in his yard; and the silence that came together with nightfall. He would return to the city every now and then; everyone needs such a reality check, simply to appreciate the wonders they already have. “Better be great in a town, than ignored in a city” he thought as he made the flight home.

 

What?

rude-boys-bus-stop-10300805The other day I took the bus down town. At the next stop an old lady grabbed the handle at the door and yelled to the driver if it made a certain stop. After he yelled back to affirm, she – with great difficulty – pulled herself in. There weren’t many people in the bus during that time of day. Two twin girls had taken up two seats in the front of the bus (you know, the ones that are usually assigned to people who need them the most) and their mother was sitting next to them across the aisle. I looked around and the people commuting weren’t really old. At least not as old as this lady.

She was obviously in pain from something. You could see it in her facial expression that she needed to sit down, as she was already panting from the effort to catch the bus and then actually get on it.

She looked around and I observed.

No-one seemed to care.

No-one, not even one person – anyone – even thought of giving up their seat for this woman. (I was standing, so I couldn’t really help).

You could see she was boiling inside, looking at the twin little girls who were carefreely staring out their window, and then their mother who didn’t really seem concerned about anything other than when they would reach their stop.

The women sitting next to the mother then got up to get off at the next stop and the old lady tried to squeeze in to sit in the inner side of the seat as the mother had not budged. The old lady resorted to clearly stating that she wants to sit down because her foot is hurting, and only then did the mother get up to let her sit.

I am left wondering, are there no manners anymore? Savoir-vivre and savoir-faire are obviously non-existent, and the only thing left is the savoir-moi.

We live in a society where everyone only cares about themselves. Where the mentality of “as long as I’m ok, I don’t care about anyone else” reigns. Where giving up your seat for someone who obviously needs it more than you should be a given. But it’s not. (And let’s not even talk about the example the parents give their children…)

Where the words ‘excuse me’ and ‘thank you’ are no longer part of our vocabulary, but instead they have given way to ‘what’, and all the swear words you can imagine.

Rudeness is such a part of our everyday lives that people have stopped paying attention to or being bothered by exactly how….rude it all is.

Walking on the sidewalk and trying to overpass people who are trailing along at snail’s pace, talking on the phone, while at the same time puffing chimney-loads of smoke back at your face. Trying to quickly insert all your shopping in the plastic bags at the end of the counter, so you have time to pay the bill without having to gather remaining items, when the next customer pushes his/her way over to your side and is literally breathing down your neck. Reaching a bus stop and realizing there is a person there taking up the entire bench, having comfortably adjusted themselves in the very middle of the seat with all their belongings on either side. There are numerous more examples of how everyone tries to make everything easier for themselves, without caring how much more difficult things become for everyone else.

There is no ‘we’ in our lives anymore. Only an ‘I’ which comes first.

Easy for me – Hard for you

In order to facilitate things for ourselves, we usually end up making things more difficult for others. For example, parking in the most obnoxious of places, simply for the sake of being closer to our destination: on the pavements, sidewalks, in front of entrances/exits, around turns, in the middle of the street. Simply anywhere that will best serve our needs. Failing to realize, however, that this ease of ours makes life all the more difficult for the rest.

Selflessness is a rare characteristic in our times. And it seems all people care about is how to best serve themselves, above and beyond others, and even at the expense of others. Fighting like hunters over food, the need to contend with others for commodities has become so embedded in daily routines, that this is how society now learns to behave. Skirmishing over even insignificant matters. Simply for the desire to show superiority over others. The motto that rules the day thus is “live and let die – as long as I’m fine, who cares about others”.

In an evolving world, instead of coming closer together we are drifting further apart. Societies are becoming all the more uncivilised and the rule of the jungle is reapplied. Survival of the fittest. Perhaps that is the reason why reality-shows monitoring each and every minute in the lives of enclosed contestants record such high viewings. People want to see what others do and find every bit of excuse to make fun of, condemn, criticize. Altruism and generosity are terms relatively unbeknown to society. Yet, when it comes to giving money to charities and other fundraisers, everybody is more than willing to show their philanthropist nature. Most, gaining on the side by the publicity and exposure they receive on account of it.

Even in supermarkets, with hundreds of products in line available to all, we witness trolleys crashing into each other, carelessly left here and there, while their owners run back and forth picking up things and moving them around, as if it is a contest to be won. And in the eyes of an independent observer, (for example KD who also told me of this), until all of these people actually pay at the cashier, they haven’t really bought anything; they’re simply shifting things around! And even left abandoned for the supermarket employees to re-arrange. At times it seems like even shopping is becoming a competition. Who will shop more, the more expensive products, the more exquisite wines, the more extraordinary food. Everything is becoming a matter of showcase.

And all that is linked to the ego – the “I” or self of any person. The essence of what builds up or tears down a person’s self-esteem and confidence. Yet, there is a difference to being confident and being overconfident. The first implies feeling self-assured, while the latter insinuates a taste of egotism – selfishness that reveals itself in trying to appear better, smarter and dominant to all others. And thus leads to the belief that “I’d better look out for myself first, because no-one else will do it for me”. It is sad that in the 21st century people still behave in such conceited and egotistical ways, ignoring or simply not caring that in a democratic and contemporary society uniting forces would actually facilitate everyone’s lives and improve everything for the better. If we would all simply help each other and follow those simple principles upon which society was based, life would be much more stress-free indeed.

A politician can be an idiot

Since the time of Socrates politicians have not been thought of highly. They are considered dishonest, selfish, arrogant, and immoral. Socrates, himself had said that “I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live”. Charlie Chaplin saw himself as a clown, but even that, according to him, placed him
on a far higher plane than any politician”.

Politicians haven’t gained a bad name for no reason.  History has shown that true politicians were remarkably few.  And those who actually care about their people and work to improve their lives can be counted on one hand. “A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar” (H. L. Mencken) and with corruption scandals and embezzlement of public funds being revealed every day, politicians have become perhaps the most hated profession of the modern era. On a daily basis they are insulted by the people who consider them more and more a disgrace, as they no longer see in them their representatives. Politicians are now scorned, despised and slated by the very people who elected them to their posts, for they do not adhere to their mandate, or to any of the electoral promises they ever made, for that matter.

Someone once argued that no politician is an idiot. Because by definition a politician is someone interested in the polis – the city-state and not in his/her own interests, the idiot – the self. It is someone who is involved in influencing public policy and decision-making and puts the good of the people before his own benefits. However, modern definitions of a politician have converted into “a seeker or holder of public office, who is more concerned about winning favour or retaining power than about maintaining principles”. It turns out, after all, that politicians are indeed idiots.

In our contemporary times, politicians appear literally everywhere, at any conference, event, gala, opening, simply to gain exposure and better their image. They either think that this will help them appear as though they are interested in public affairs, or they simply want more than Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame. It actually appears to be both. Politicians, being the idiots they are, only care about heightening their own image and appearing as though they care, whilst at the same time serving their own selfish purpose.

Press conferences and debates are held sometimes even twice a day, while negotiations and discussions are on-going for days, even months with the sole reason of appearing as though action is being taken and something is actually being done by those in power, when in reality it is all about pleasing their own desire for exposure and publicity.

Statements are made continuously by politicians eager to talk, while hundreds of reports on various policies are published. They all do the same. They outline what needs to be done and when. But no-one ever realistically explains how they propose this to be done. And it turns out it is all about wishful thinking. In the EU, for example, months of discussions pass before the budget is approved and decisions are made as to how much money will be spent for various regions, projects and issues. They never, however, take into account the selfish and greedy nature of human beings. And years after the funds have been disbursed but the projects never happened the European Commission begins investigations on misuse of funds and embezzlement. As if it is surprising that idiots would do exactly what they are by definition known for – serving their own interests at the expense of the public good. And all this selfishness will in the end result in the demise of the polis and the common good. And as Paulo Coelho had described in a short story, the only way for the polis/town/state to survive was to let it drown in its own corruption and then build it anew.

Indeed, the problem with the world today is that so much talk is based on idealised situations. As if corruption and selfishness do not exist. Politicians are so versed in how to paint out exactly what they would like things to be. But they provide solutions to problems that are not realistic or at times even feasible. Instead, politicians are characterised by all talk and no action. They all know all too well how to draw attention to themselves, how to speak without actually saying anything, how to make empty promises, that people seem to forget that nothing substantial is ever occurring. And that is also one of the reasons why it is often argued that people who study politics are so repelled by what they learn that they never want to go into politics. Politics is indeed a dirty game. But what everyone seems to forget is that this very “game” concerns the lives of people who depend on those ruling to secure a better living for them – for the people, not the rulers.

Bertrand Russell had said that “the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt”. Thing is, it is the cocksure idiots that rise up in the world and end up presiding over the unsure.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Viral – The New York Times is going to feature your blog on its home page, and you’ve been asked to publish a new post — it’ll be the first thing tens of thousands of new readers see. Write it.

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