Reaping what you Sow

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I'm a materialist. That means that I don't think there's any such thing as fate, or karma, or some supernatural entity who doles out intermittent "justice" as part of their "divine plan."

Such ideas just don't make sense to me. I don't think people get cancer for some esoteric reason pertaining to personal growth - they get cancer because they've been exposed to carcinogens, or they have minute mutations in their genetic makeup that makes them more susceptible, or for any of a hundred reasons that are known or unknown. People don't lose their loved ones in terrible accidents for some higher purpose or because their creator called them home. People die in accidents because someone was driving too fast, or was careless with machinery, or because a critical piece of equipment just wore out. These things don't happen because people deserve to be punished or there's some plan. Shit just happens, and most of the time it sucks.

But I do have a belief that people reap what they sow, and not because of any mystical clap-trap* about how the universe gives you what you ask for.

High quality people attract other high quality people to them. Low quality people attract other low quality people.

If I am the kind of person who deals honestly and forthrightly with others, I will naturally want people around me who do the same, and they will want me in their lives, as well. If I value these characteristics, and integrate them into my life, it's unlikely I will welcome people who do not.

But if I'm the kind of person who lies, who cheats, who manipulates to get my way, then why would the honest and forthright people of the world give me the time of day? The minute they find out who I am, they will drop me like a hot rock, and excise that behavior from their lives.

I think the same is true of all the virtues and vices - generosity versus parsimony. Kindness versus meanness. Curiosity versus dullness. In every case, if I live the virtue I claim to value, my intimate circle will fill with people who also live the virtue, and the dirtbags will fall away.

While culling the dirtbags is always a work in progress, and being a virtuous person is no guarantee that people won't do you wrong, I think attracting high quality people into your life goes a long way in protecting yourself against the dirtbags. A willingness to ban bad behavior from your inner circle, while simultaneously cultivating good behavior in your own choices, more often than not will result in a positive reap/sow experience.

Does that make me a purveyor of mystical clap-trap? I hope not. I just want to be a good person, and have other good people in my life. With no dirtbags.


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*Really, Oprah? Really? Why, oh WHY can't you use your powers for GOOD?

7 comments:

Tom said...

Yes!

This morning on the commuter rail there was talk of weddings and such, including one that was outside, and had rain right after finishing. They said that was a sign of luck! Perfectly serious!

Really, luck? Somebody apportions "luck" out to people who do the right rituals? No! But so many people seem to think that luck, along with karma, are something you can court. I think this is just a continuation of their "magical" thinking.

The world is not magical.

Oh well...

John the Scientist said...

High quality people attract other high quality people to them. Low quality people attract other low quality people.

This is a fundamental law of the universe.

Not to say that there will ever be zero low quality people in your life - life always has a stochastic element. But reducing the percentages vastly improves your odds at everything.

Steve Buchheit said...

Strangely enough, dealing with some of these issues this very minute. I'm trying to be virtuous and calmly pointing out errors in logic (from someone who is pissy that they're not getting their way). Already have had to delete the "Ultimate Smack-Down" email twice today. I remain nice. They'll eventually get it. Or I'll go all nuclear on their ass and expose their machinations in a very public display.

Janiece said...

Steve, I tend to perceive personal and professional relationships somewhat differently. I have control over who shares my personal life, in every case (although exercising that control is sometimes heart breaking). Professionally? Not so much. Until I become independently wealthy, I have an obligation to at least tolerate a certain number of assbags in my professional life. Unfortunately.

nzforme said...

OK, but there will always be people around who want to take advantage of your goodness. (And, let's assume these are people you encounter professionally, so you can't cut them out of your life.) Do you respond to them with goodness (which they will continue to take advantage of) or do you respond to shitty behavior in kind (thereby sinking to their level, but making sure they reap what they sow)?

I find it's much easier to be good when surrounded by good people, but confess a deep desire to manipulate the evil bastards into screwing themselves over.

Janiece said...

nzforme, I struggle with that constantly.

In my world it's almost always a case where someone believes that because I've made the effort to learn skills that they lack, that somehow I'm now obligated to do their job, or perform work for which I'm not being paid, or bail them out of a jam that would have been completely self-correcting if they were, you know, competent.

Learning when to concede and help or when to let them fall on their ass in a spectacular fashion is something I still don't have down pat. So I try to take it on a case by case basis, and usually my response depends on how often they've come to that well.

beatrice in Paris said...

In French, we say "marriage pleuvieux, marriage heureux"= rainy wedding, happy couple.

BUT, it could be based on a pun:
"marriage plus vieux, marriage heureux" = people wed when older make a happier couple.

I tend to take the second view that the weddings of older people are more likely to last. It has nothing to do with luck.