A life spent trying to be a people-pleaser tends to impart a few lessons, sooner or later:
- You can’t please everybody, regardless of your heroic intention. In any case, it’s no one’s job to. People are ultimately responsible for their own experience. This includes oneself.
- Some people will be offended when no offence is intended, and remain offended after apologies are offered. It may be nothing you’ve done, but that you somehow, just being in their presence, or simply being, challenge them and their long held beliefs. It could be karmic, or it could be that they just needed the challenge for their spiritual evolution, and you walked into the vacancy. So to speak. It’s never an enviable place to be, but there’s a ton of possible of “merit points” to score if you can hang onto your patience and compassion…
- There are people who are draining to be around (and you can usually find others to agree with you). Let’s not bandy around the “everybody’s fantastic” and “we see others as we see ourselves” happy talk here. Narcissists exist. People who are projecting their own repressed negativities exist. There’ll be less handwringing the sooner one can identify these behaviors in other people and oneself, so that we’re not taking on others’ problems and making them our own. (If you’ve ever known a narcissist, reading about their traits and behaviors can lead to huge relief and self-empowerment.)
- There will exist people who have ethical and moral stances on the opposite pole. Repeated and unrepentant de-humanisation of a group (women/gays/racial minorities/children/foreigners, etc) usually betray a fear-filled soul. Statements and threats implying group punishment, annihilation of the enemy, rape, “bombing them all to hell” and etc., even made in the heat of the moment, show a person who has little mastery over him-or herself.I actually “like” these people in a sense that they’re easily identifiable.
- There exist people who will never take a side even when the injustice is obvious. And I do mean “Billy the Bully just came in and socked the baby for his toy” kind of obvious. Unnecessary animal cruelty kind of obvious. Oppression kind of obvious. These people aren’t ignorant. Some may love using additional information to play devil’s advocate. But they will always maintain they aren’t on one side or the other, as if this is, or should be, a bragging point. This “neutrality” is even maintained in issues of censorship, human exploitation, wanton killing, environmental destruction, and media bias.
In a recent event where I watched this neutral “friendship” in inaction, it was to see a girl friend’s discussion on sexual assult receive, from one individual, some truly odious and sexist derailing. It was an ugly situation, yet had a long-term fence-sitting “friend” just watching passively from the sidelines–not only not acting while ad hominem attacks were in play, but seemingly proud of their neutrality even after the fact.
I know my own negative reaction this long-term habit of theirs was instructive–while I appreciate objectivity and neutrality, a “friend” who cannot recognise a clear transgression taking place, when everyone else can if only by social and ethical mores, may be displaying neutrality, but I’m doubtful about objectivity, and say it was a poor show for friendship. (I’d actually long placed the fence-sitting acquaintance into the “fucking annoying egotist” column.)
To open a can of worms, I’d venture ego is involved in this (haha) grandstanding fence-sitting–what better and safer way to show superiority than by not choosing a side at all. The “wrong side” won’t be picked, but better: “Uniquely” taking the neutral, “higher” position! (Sides are for mortals.)
It’s interesting to note in my own experience that the people I’ve known who doggedly choose neutrality tend to be male, of the dominant group, and materially affluent. In other words, privileged. Being of the disadvantaged group, after all, tends to remove passive “neutrality”–the well being (or lack of) of the oppressed is intimately tied with their needs and rights being recognised.
There is also the typical left-brained logical domination that denies (usually) humanitarian or compassionate considerations. I have mentioned that these people don’t lack information–they can provide statistics in spades, but persuasion on humanitarian grounds, even in the face of obvious emotional and physical suffering, barely makes them bat an eyelid. The world is the way it is. Rules are rules. Some variation of these two statements will be offered.
Unlike Martin Luther King, Jr., however, I cannot find it in me to consider such individuals “good people.” (BTW, these individuals would also love to debate the meanings of “good” and “bad”… philosophical concepts worth looking at sometimes, yes, but a callous smokescreen at other times.) In “woo” speak, these are head-centered people who haven’t yet learned to integrate empathy or input from the rest of their body–I’ve also seen pages and sites alluding to soulless humans, not something I’m discounting since I can’t say for certain. Reading about core energetics, I wish I could see what’s going on within such individuals; but overall, I’ve always had a natural aversion to those who lack and repeatedly reject empathy.
Social dynamics have long been an area I’ve watched and been befuddled by. I’m picky with my friends; and on a personal level have never been concerned with having a lot of them, but having the right ones who will accept (or better, celebrate) my weirdness and my passions. Any show of de-humanisation or “neutrality” (of the vein described above) pretty much gets an individual held off at a distance–where I don’t wish them ill, but don’t wish to fix them, and view interactions with them as potential trials (sorry! lol). If only because of experience, I accept that some people are really incompatible on a deeper level, and trying to force friendships by papering over the incompatibilities with social niceties may be a social expectation but one that’s ultimately counter-productive. By the Law of Attraction, if such “mismatches” are meant to bump into each other for a teaching experience, it will happen on its own.
Good luck when that happens!