Sunday, April 08, 2018

Don't Lift Some Up By Putting Others Down

I was reminded of the importance of how we talk about people today as I discussed this topic with a friend. Essentially we do no one any good if we put someone else down to lift someone up. For example if you ridicule a co-worker's efforts to demonstrate that another co-worker should not feel bad about what he/she does or doesn't do, you don't create a situation that leads to betterment, but instead create a situation that leads to resentment or harmful competition.

In the specific situation, the friend and I were discussing, one not related to either of our work places, but to a broader context, individuals who were doing well and trying to do the right thing were ridiculed in order to make others who were at a disadvantage feel better. For example an individual who was making a substantial contribution to an organization was ridiculed rather than used as an example or point of reference in a positive way.

When a person who is doing the right thing is ridiculed, everyone loses out. In this situation, what could have happened is that person could have been held up as an example of someone who was using drive, passion, time, capacity, and effort to get ahead, and instead of used as an example to be ridiculed, that person could have been used as an example of the kinds of actions that propel us ahead in our lives towards greater happiness and personal success, actions such as:
  • Knowing who you are
  • Following your passions and dreams
  • Schooling yourself with reading, research, and other types of learning
  • Working collaboratively
  • Identifying opportunities to get ahead
  • Following tried-and-true paths to achievement such as gaining degrees, attending professional programs, and completing necessary work
When using an individual to ridicule, the disadvantaged don't learn about how to better their circumstances, but instead can become insolent, self-pitying, discouraged, and hopeless. When they see those who are moving ahead as who not to be, they lose the opportunity to see those individuals as mentors for whom they can be or how they can move forward.

As I think of this, I am thinking of my own children. For example, rather than citing someone's success as luck, result of greed, or due to other unfortunate elements or attributes, I can say, let's look at how he/she managed his/her advantages, opportunities, challenges, time, and effort to achieve that success--is that something you could emulate in some ways in your life? How can you identify and follow the lead of those in your midst that live the life you aspire to?

In my own life, there are a few individuals that I look to as mentors--they have what I want when I get to their age and place in life. Essentially they've used their time, talents, and opportunities well to live a good life--the kind of life I want for the next chapter, a life that finds them doting on grandchildren, enjoying good friends, volunteering in the community, attending arts events, spending time in beautiful natural places, and all-in-all living simply so they have the health, happiness, and time to do what matters to them. I've watched how these mentors have managed their money, relationships, health care, challenges, and dreams, and I like what I see and want to emulate that. 

Similarly I often use others as lessons for my own sons as I point out how the people around us have used their talents, interests, and time to live well. On the other hand, I often use stories from the news to point out where people have made selfish decisions to harm or hurt their lives and the lives of others--decisions that are not the object of my ridicule, but instead a point of teaching how things could have been better if he/she had not driven under the influence, unleashed his/her anger in a violent way, cheated with financial choices, or misrepresented himself or herself.

It's best to help one another with our stories and the stories of others. It's not good to ridicule another's success or happiness, but instead use that positivity as an example of what people can do to move forward and better themselves. That's better.