HERE are some of the things human beings do to each other : recognising the possibility of an advantage to themselves --political, financial or emotional - people shamelessly exploit the vulnerability of others, taking advantage of their innocence, or their insecurity to close a deal, win a vote, or even to exert emotional control. If they achieve the result they want, they'll usually -end up being despised by those they’ve manipulated and then bleat about not being appreciated.
Sometimes triggered by a tiny dispute, spouses suddenly discover ‘irreconcilable differences’ they had previously managed to overlook, or learnt to live with. If one leaves the marriage, the one left behind will often say, “I didn't see it coming" or “I still don't understand why he/she left”, and then, two years later, decide “it was all for the best.” Meanwhile, the one who did the leaving may be tormented by persistent doubts and occasional bouts of guilt ... but not always: these are humans we're talking about, so the outcome is unpredictable. Sometimes they'll both go to the grave grieving, sometimes they'll both fall in love with other people and live happily ever after, and some- times they'll just go on coping, neither particularly happy nor particularly miserable.
Confusing wealth and status with personal fulfilment, people develop such desire for power and recognition they fall into the merciless embrace of unbridled ambition, overwork, inat-tention to the inner life, and insensitivity to the legitimate needs of those around them. (Such excesses are usually obvious to everyone but the person concerned.)
People who wouldn't dream of waving a loaded pistol around in a public place will never-theless have a few drinks, get behind the wheel of a car and take to the roads.
People sexually abuse children.
People assert that "money doesn't bring happiness", then act as if just a little more money would bring a little more happiness. People will say they'd never do anything 'Just for the money" and then devote their working lives to the goal of making money. ('Ah, but its the thrill of the chase, " they’ll say, with straight face.)
In the name of revenge, people act in ways that are indistinguishable from the behaviour that offends them, dragging themselves down to the level of the cheat, the aggressor, the thief. Yet they'll vehemently deny that "two wrongs make a right".
Lured by the excitement, yet knowing the consequences of their actions, people deliberately light bushfires that blaze for days. Others, who wouldn't dream of lighting a fire on Purpose, throw still-burning cigarette butts out of their car windows. People tell each other this most treacherous of all lies: "I'm a very poor actor - 1 couldn't deceive you even if 1 wanted to."
At the very brink of a long-planned retire-ment, and to the amazement of their friends and families, people abandon their marriages because they are freaked by the prospect of new demands on their relationship. Partners who have painfully mastered the art of a healthy mutual support system then struggle to rebuild their lives as singles, each with half the financial and emotional capital they had as -a couple. Though they maybe convinced that this is a course of action they had to take - perhaps in a last-ditch attempt to extract more joy out of life - they'll often find themselves lying awake at night, wondering where their lives went.
And here are some other things people do:
Out of nothing but compassion, people perform the most extraordinary acts of kindness to total strangers - visiting the lonely, tending the sick, feeding the hungry. (To complicate the picture, it must also be said that some people relate better - more generously more forgivingly more charitably - to strangers than to members of their own families.)
People go on loving and caring for partners or parents disabled by strokes, heart attacks, cancer or Alzheimer's, persisting even when they are no longer acknowledged or even recognised.
Parents love their children unconditionally. Often, they believe their own offspring to he uniquely beautifu1 and laden with talent and charm not always apparent to others, but even when they don't, they love them anyway.
People cheerfully volunteer their services to take meals to the sick and elderly, patrol beaches. Conduct tours around public institutions, regenerate the bush, teach English to immigrants, coach kids' sporting teams.
Defying the logic of human selfishness, people sacrifice their live-- to save others, abandon their own goals to hhelp others achieve theirs, give support and affection when they are needed and never pause to consider whether they are deserved or not.
Say what you like about the behaviour of gold -fish, baboons and echidnas; human beings are pretty strange creatures. Enjoy them