Being Nice To Yourself…And Getting Away With It.

You’ll find as you go through life that you can be cruel to other people and get away with it – just pitch your meanness either too low to see or too high to criticize. Dictators and petty despots get away with this all the time.

You can also be cruel to yourself – Woody Allen, Rodney Dangerfield, and Oscar Levant  made a good living out of this – and your psychiatrist will also welcome you beating yourself up. At medical rates.

Being kind to others is also approved by the general population, as long as they are not required to join in or to contribute too much money. Do good on a small change basis and you’ll be fine.

But being kind to yourself will bring nothing but condemnation. Anything you buy yourself – any treat that you get – any happiness you find – will be looked upon as self-indulgent. Any time you grant yourself a discharge from guilt or an access to peace will be frowned upon. If you want to be nice to you, you’ll have to do it on the sly. So here are some tips:

a. Decide what you like to eat. Buy it, cook it, and eat it…in your own home.

b. Decide what you like to read. Buy the book, find the website, rent the movie. And look at it in your own home.

c. Decide for yourself what makes you comfortable. Do it in your own home.

Can you see a pattern developing here? Well the exercise of happiness at home is a good start. But consider it as a training phase. Wear yellow clothing and only fly in the daytime if need be…but prepare yourself for bigger things.

One day…go out and order yourself a meal of the things you like to eat in a restaurant. Eat them.

Then go read your book in a public park…or park in a pub and read it.

Then wear the clothing you like out on the street…and go where you find pleasure…and participate in it.

Make no mistake – someone will be angry. Someone will be disapproving. Someone will be unhappy.

But if you have done your training well….it won’t be you.

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What Grade Are You In?

One of the primary questions of our childhood. It determined how we were going to be treated by the other kid – if we were a rank up, we had to be deferred to – if a year down we could be dominated. Thank goodness that sort of thing stopped when we entered tertiary education, the military, or a corporate structure and were all mature and kindly adults…

Okay, okay, that was heavy-handed. Not everything can be rapier wit around here. Sometimes the bludgeon is closer to hand.

There were all sorts of rules about school status – and this in North American public education where equality was meant to rule. God knows how it must have been for the post-war British coping with their societal changes. As it is, their adults didn’t manage so well, let alone the kids.

Now, in Australia, there is really only one effective gradation system – money. No matter who or what you are, if you have it, you advance up the ladder. In most cases there is no sense of noblesse oblige so you needn’t be concerned with being seen as good or moral at the same time. All you need is the perceived ability to pay – you’ll generally not be required to do so. That’s how money works – it sticks to the fingers that have it.

But there is one out for this – the power of money and the status it confers can only extend to those who have it and those who want it.  Outside of these two groups, everyone else can see it with a wider vision – they can live life in spite of, and despite it. And none more able than the retiree.

Retirees – as distinct from railway hoboes – are people with enough money for their own purposes, but who may have no actual purpose. They are people freed from the clock. Of course the cosmic one still ticks, and they are a damn sight closer to the alarm going off than their younger counterparts. But until then, they can look at their nominal superiors and inferiors with a mild eye. A mild tongue too, if they are not provoked.

They can converse with the multi-billionaire easily – given that there is no prospect of any of the billions drifting their way. They need pay no lip service. In most cases they have seen it all before, and in many cases it was better done. They can be prevailed upon for advice and give it freely – not having to be responsible for it after it leaves their lips. It is not that they do not care – but they may be opting for a bit of destructive experimentation. Do not ask a retiree which wire to cut…

They can be kind without fear of reprisal. No-one expects them to be competent. No-one suspects them of it either…

It is a delightful time of life, if only people would realise it.

Being Kind To People For Fun And Profit

We need not spend our days devising traps for our fellow men. Or women, for that matter. We can devote part of the time to good works and kindly activities. We can radiate sunshine and happiness. We can bless all around us.

And after we’ve lulled them into a sense of security we can fall on them like avenging demons. They’ll have slowed down enough during the good times to make for much easier targets.

Of course there are people who say this is cruel and deceitful upon our part – who say that we are merely taking advantage of people to wreak a more terrible revenge upon them. Well they said that about Lady Macbeth and Vlad the Impaler and that hasn’t stopped people from visiting Scotland or Transylvania, now has it? And what’s a little blood between friends? A sticky red pool, that’s what.

A lot of people think of kindness in big terms – like valuable gifts or especial politeness and suchlike. Really, it can be accomplished for very little outlay, after you pay for the knife sharpening. Try doing one kind deed for someone today and see how far it goes. For instance; if you see a pensioner on the side of the road struggling to escape the deadly toils of terrible poisonous serpents, don’t just speed away. Slow down or stop, wind down the window, and say Good Day. They appreciate these things, the pensioners and the serpents.

Children can sense kindness. They respond to it as flowers do to the sun – by wilting. So remember to water the under-5’s when they come to visit. And a sprinkle of chicken manure wouldn’t go astray, either…

Finally, remember that the key to a good marriage can be made in Heaven. Or by Yale. Get two cut and put one under the mat.

 

I Think Of You As A Good Person

But I’ve been wrong about these things before…

I try. I really do try. Every day I attempt to have a good opinion of the people I meet. Some days are successful days and some days are just…well…days. But the good news is I am prepared to reset the mechanism at midnight and re-consider your character in the morning.

This means that in many cases you will have a chance to do better – to appear kinder and more intelligent and more honest than on previous occasions. And each time you do, it will raise you in my estimation. You may reach a plateau – like a level in a video game – that means each thing you do is going to earn you extra psychic points. This is wonderful, and eventually you may get to the point where you turn into a princess or a prince and the golden moneybags start to appear on the screen.

Conversely, every time you foist something on me via Facebook that has been supplied by the latest fake news source, you drop down a notch. Please be aware: there are only so many notches before we reach rock bottom.

In case this sounds really arrogant…well it is. It’s part of the mechanism that I employ to navigate through the world. So far I have hit remarkably few rocks and shoals and I’m willing to attribute this to the personal cynicism about which you are reading. As long as I keep it inside, it is not going to do you any more harm than you deserve. If you behave as a lady or a gentleman should, you will be treated as such.

And we will have a successful day.

Note: Unfortunately this sort of philosophy requires me to be a good person as well. It is annoying, but there you are. You can’t make omelettes without breaking expensive kitchen utensils.

 

How To Lay A Kindfield – Part Three

The business of being mean to people occupies a great deal of the time and thoughts for the world’s leaders. Whether they are plotting war, famine, disease, or death – or just kicking back with a beverage, they are constantly dealing with unhappiness. It must take a toll on them.

Far better for them to approach things in a different way – to promote goodness, mercy, thoughtfulness, and kindness. Properly done, with adequate resources and long-term committment, this policy has the potential to devastate large portions of the globe. As individuals we can do no better than to try it for ourselves.

I’ve some experience in this – I give out presents each year during the Chanukah-Christmas period and have had the pleasure of seeing the trouble it has caused. In year’s past I selected books at new and secondhand stores to match the interests and pleasures of the recipients. I put all the people down upon one long paper list and then another long paper list of the appropriate books beside it, carefully aligned. Then I simply slipped the second list down one space and gave out the books on that basis. One year I slipped it two names and lost a half-dozen friends instantly. It was one of the most successful holidays ever.

Lately I have resorted to wines in plain bottles, for which I make up suitable labels. The wines are local produce and sometimes quite drinkable, so I have no fear about actually poisoning the recipients. This would be unfair, and probably illegal. I am content with whatever biliousness, stains, and argumentative behaviour that may arise from the stuff as it is.

Being kind to children is part of the tradition as well, What child would not welcome a pop-pop lawnmower to push around the loungeroom while the parents have a hangover? What child would be unhappy with a plastic rabbit that lays real rabbit poo out of its bottom when you push it up and down? Particularly if it comes with a real bag of real poo. And then there are the dollies. Big, elaborate dollies. Dollies that need an entire new wardrobe every time the child goes to the store…

Now promoting happiness is one thing – promoting morality is, in some ways, even better. And you need not leave anyone out of this. There are any number of religious and moral organisations who wish to press tracts upon us for our betterment…in accordance with their beliefs. It is a kindness to them to accept of these – to even order them especially – and to lay them up for future use.

When you have sufficient stock, it is a simple matter of taking a walk in your suburb  after dark to put the correct pamphlet into the correct letter box. No good putting the 7th Day Adventist leaflet into the post box of the 7th Day adherent – they already know that song. Put it into the box of the Hindu person. Take the Vishnu Society booklet and pop it into the mailbox of the fervent Catholic in the street. And so on. If you are puzzled as to the exact nature of the beliefs of anyone, just make a note of their street address and sign them up for everything – including time-share units at Noosa. If their post box actually falls over in the mud from the weight of paper thrust into the slot, it is the fault of the makers.

 

 

None Of My Darned Business

Have you ever sat there and actually considered how many things in your world are none of your darned business?

I did just this recently and came up with a surprising number of topics that I need never address. The fact that I have done so in the past meant that I was making myself or others unhappy to no purpose. I could have saved my breath to cool my porridge and improved my days no end. Here’s a selection of opportunities that I can take in the future to butt out:

a. The bad driver on the road who swerves and rockets about between lanes – who tailgates and lurches and cuts in. No sense me raging about this behaviour – nothing I do is going to abate it. All I need do is steer clear and stay back and let him…or her…meet their fate by themselves. Hopefully it will not occur where I have to stop and render aid.

b. As the love affairs of others are not my business, neither are their hate affairs. I can hope, in humanity, that everyone will be loved and true and content. If it happens I will cheer. If it does not, I shall remain silent.

I’ll help out – though I draw the line at moving furniture these days – but apart from general sympathy and the occasional cup of tea, I think I should keep my opinions to myself.

I shall have to work on controlling my wince, when I hear details.

c. I’m not going to poke anyone in their religion or politics, for fear of something oozing out. If they will aid me in this by not exposing themselves so blatantly on Facebook it would be appreciated. In turn, I shall not hand out pamphlets or sell religious relics at cocktail parties.

d. While I might be uncertain if anyone’s religion is really sacred, I am convinced that their bank accounts are. Thus their financial affairs will be treated with dignity and respect. I shall not beg money of them, nor steal it when they are out of the room. Likewise I shall not advance sums that would expose them to embarrassment or me to inconvenient loss.

e. I shall try to exercise a complete sense of tolerance towards the dress of others – and hope that they can be as kind to me. I’m retired, with a wardrobe of odd, if serviceable clothing left over from the last 40 years. I am comfortable with most of it and hope to wear it out in a frugal manner. I’ll need to remember that others may be doing this as well.

f. I’m not so sure if I can treat the speech and writing of others in such a laissez-faire manner – particularly if they are addicted to foul language. I wasn’t brought up to it and still find it an offensive thing to hear. Indeed, in the mouths of some, it is actually ridiculous.

I might have to balance a middle ground in this one – grit my old teeth and take no notice up to a certain point and then just walk away after that. The real decision will be whether to ever walk back…

g. The musical, artistic, and visual tastes of everyone are personal, and I must stop mentally judging them when I hear or see what pleases them. The judgement need not be bad – I quite approve of some things, but need to remember that my opinion is not called for either way.

This’ll be a work in progress for a few years. With any luck it may make me more of a gentleman, or at least a calmer and kinder individual.

Civility And How To Avoid It- Part 1

With the rise of civil behaviour and good manners in the last few years – prompted in large part by the election of Mr. Donald Trump to the American Presidency – there has been an increasing feeling of unease in the backstabbing community. The Guild hopes to be able to reassure members and the general public and to set us all back on the proper pathway. Because everything off the pathway is strewn with mines.

Let’s start by making sure that people know what civility actually is – it is no good starting at phantoms and then letting real dangers slip in the door.

Civility is adult behaviour of considerate men and women who take care to treat others with respect and who do not cause unnecessary suffering. It is related to politeness and kindness, as wens are related to furuncles and boils, and it is equally welcome. Civility is the cement of societies…a thought that may comfort some until they realise that cement is also used to weight bodies that will be dumped in the harbour.

Civility may also be defined as a social pavise that allows one to get within easy crossbow-shot of the unsuspecting. As such, it is not that bad. You can paint soothing mental pictures on the front of it to make people think that a work of art is creeping up on them. Then, when they have been lulled into an aesthetic sense of safety you pop up and let one loose at them. If you do it in a completely calm and unemotional voice they may not even believe it was you. Quietly crouch under the protection as you wind your windlass and prepare for a second shot.

It’s not likely that you’ll get a third one off undetected, so be prepared to creep away. In some cases it is wise to creep as fast as your feet will carry you.

It has often been said that it costs nothing to be civil. True, and in many cases the behaviour is worth every penny you pay… In the case of Backstabbers Guild members we would advise a more commercial approach – be as polite as you need to be for as long as you need to be. Once your object has been achieved you can stop the pretence and go back to normal.  If you do it unobtrusively the memory of your kindness will continue far after you have resumed being cruel.

Remember that Mary Poppins – a Backstabber if ever there was one – said that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. She was, of course, speaking before the current research into diabetes, obesity, and social virtue damned the sugar industry. And she was likely on the payroll of CSR. But she was right – you can sweeten vitriol, paraquat, and curare quite effectively if there are no hypodermic darts available. We advise that you never lick the spoon.

Part 2 will detail civility in different civilisations, though we have no data for Tasmania or Newfoundland as they are not civilisations