Everybody wants something. And we all know that to get what we want, we have to deal with other people. Often what we want conflicts with what other people want. Why don’t we see eye to eye? That’s easy. We’re different! But how is another matter.

Last week, we talked about dealing with the differences between us and that handling those differences properly will be an important characteristic of the 21st century Enlightenment.

But it was mainly in terms of inter-cultural, racial, and religious differences and these are not the only things that define peoples and individuals. To think so superficially would be the equivalent of assuming that every white Christian American or Chinese Buddhist handles the world exactly the same--this not the case.

What people want varies from individual to individual. Everyone values different things and interacts with others in a certain way to get it.

 I am going to describe some friends of mine, what they want, and how they go about getting it. Think about those you know who seem similar.

I have one friend who is his own little enterprising whirlwind. It’s extreme. He’s the modern version of a snake oil salesman. He travels the world, doing whatever he thinks will make him money from getting clothing made in Indonesia and selling it in the U.S., but I’m not too sure how closely he looks at the conditions of those workshops. He participates in certain illegal activities--not because of any anti-social tendencies, but because they are highly profitable. He’s always striking a deal with someone, but he rarely spends money. He’s market centered and his kind is necessary for creating wealth in society.

Conversely, there is this group of folks I know. They’ve taken it upon themselves to dramatically alter society. In fact, they’ve been camping on a piece of grass down by the capitol building in my city since November--all through the winter--trying to make the statement that our government has been co-opted by big business interests. It’s quite impressive the lengths they will go to be heard and their dedication to their cause is unquestionable. They’re cause centered and their kind highlights the importance of activities and issues that might otherwise be neglected.

 Imagine an encounter between my market-centered friend and one of my cause centered friends. One might say:

 “You’re so materialistic. All you care about is money and you don’t care how you get it.”

 The other would reply: “You’re the ridiculous opposite of materialistic.” (Which they would take as a compliment.) “Get a job. You don’t contribute anything to society. You just complain and moan about injustice and how life isn’t fair.”

But that’s not all.

My father, fairly recently, became a judge. He spent the bulk of his career, before being appointed, as a lawyer, taking pro bono cases and letting people off the hook who couldn’t pay him for his services--much to the chagrin of my mother (who is a bit of a market-centered person).

 He is a highly educated and kind man who has spent his life in the pursuit of social harmony. He values the ideals of democracy, he is fair, and he does what he can to help those he comes across. He is community centered and his kind is needed to insert concern in an often indifferent world.

But my father doesn’t get along with everyone. As a person in a government position, he is frequently in contact with local politicians, whose main objective is to control the world around them (in often small and ridiculous ways) but to be in control nevertheless. As a result, my father finds that he is asked to enforce laws that he feels are counter to what he considers just and right. He doesn’t get angry or protest (as a cause centered person might), he simply does not enforce them and the power centered politicians hate him for it.

People are all oriented towards one or two mentalities. Certain mentalities clash--much like my market and cause centered friends would or my community centered father and his power centered political counterparts.

If we understand who we are personally and who we’re dealing with in any given interaction, it can help to smoothen interacting for benefit--and this is very much a part of the 21st Century Enlightenment that I go on and on about.

blog comments powered by Disqus