“It costs $0.00 to be a decent person.”
words to live by
When I saw this quote I started jotting thoughts down immediately.
Here was the most interesting note: least expensive or most expensive?
It costs you nothing to be a decent person but it can still be an expensive decision. This may sound incredibly cynical but deciding to be decent is not a zero sum decision … it is a Life value equation.
I decide to do this <be decent> or do not do this <not be decent> and ‘this’ is the repercussion of that decision <the value or lost opportunity/gain>.
By being decent in the business world you can be viewed as ‘too nice’ and get mangled by some cutthroat asshat.
By being decent in Life you can be viewed as naive and get taken advantage of by those willing to ‘do what it takes.’
Therefore, oddly and unfortunately, decency can ultimately be assessed in ROI terms by many of us in our lives.
Boy … that sounds pretty fucked up when I say it out loud.
So someone may argue with the ROI thing but maybe think of it this way …
You walk by 4 homeless people but give the 5th one you see $20. Does the $20 balance out the fact you ignored the other 4? You were decent but selectively so.
Don’t like that?
So set aside the money.
You walk by 4 homeless veterans … never acknowledging them or looking at them … the 5th homeless vet you stop for a second and look them in the eye and say “thank you for your service.” Does the one you give some dignity to zero out the 4 you completely disregarded?
Unfortunately, decency is an ROI assessment. And more excruciatingly … it is an assessment made moment by moment as well as cumulatively.
What I mean by that is decency is mutually exclusive not inclusive … and decent moments are independent of other moments <when you may not have been so, or as, decent> … not interdependent <warning: I most likely mangled the meanings of both mutually exclusive and independent>.
Mutually exclusive events cannot happen at the same time. For example: when tossing a coin, the result can either be heads or tails but cannot be both. Events are independent if the occurrence of one event does not influence (and is not influenced by) the occurrence of the other(s).
You do not accumulate ‘decency points’ in Life or in business.
Not being decent cannot be equaled out by being extraordinarily decent in another moment.
That doesn’t sound particularly fair does it?
But you have to think that way or you start thinking about decency in a conscious decision making balance sheet sort of way. “well, I am not going to be particularly decent in this situation because to do so I may not benefit as much as I believe I deserve” and then a couple days later you consciously say to yourself “I was kind of a dickwad the other day so maybe if I am particularly decent now that will make up for it.”
I absolutely hated myself for scribbling any thought down that suggested there was a cost to being a decent person. Fucking hated even having the thought.
But no matter how much I hated it … it surely does seem like it is a Life truth.
To me there is only one way to resolve this ‘self dilemma’ and it is an ‘either/or’ thought.
You accept the fact you are gonna be a decent human being all the time and accept that the chips will fall as they may throughout Life … and they may not all fall your way <and you can spend your last days on earth feeling pretty good about yourself from a character standpoint by realizing a Big life can often be found in a shitload of small victories>.
You accept the fact that situational decisions are situational decisions and you are a decent person at heart therefore you seek to view life, in the end, as “I was more often decent than I wasn’t” <and a Big life meant you bucked the odds of a world constantly trying to encourage non-decency and you won more often than you lost>.
I cannot choose the path for you.
But I will state that simply recognizing that this is the dilemma we face in Life … and that this is basically your choice … you have accepted that being a decent person is an ROI analysis.
A decent person and ROI. Sigh. What a sad thought.