Yesterday, we were having lunch with a friend when the conversation veered to someone we were all concerned about. It soon became apparent that there were two vastly different world views which we felt strongly about. One was, “who am I to judge, criticize or interfere with someone else, even if they are being self-destructive?” The other was, “how can we sit idly by and not try to help in some way?” The former was to strictly mind our own business while living and let live. The other was to take action in some way to make things better, to influence or intervene for a positive change.
Let me just say that during this conversation, we also voiced past examples where no manner of intervention worked to stop someone from doing something self-destructive, whether it be throwing their health away or other worldly goods. So, even trying to do something didn’t necessarily make a difference.
These two vastly different views about our role in life also serve to polarize our society politically, it seems to me: those who want to be left alone to sink or swim on one’s own efforts; and those who feel it is an obligation to help “those in need.” I didn’t realize until now how different these basic attitudes were and how strongly they are held in our present society.
One of the CEO’s I worked with in biotech years ago liked to say: “There are only two kinds of people in the world: simplifiers and complicators.” That adage, I think is true. The one above is more complex and grey rather than black and white.
Nobody likes to be told what to do, and not everyone wants to see things differently, that’s for sure. So where does that leave us?