“‘Kindly let me help you or you will drown,’ said the monkey, putting the fish safely up a tree.” – Proverb
A natural human tendency is to want our ideas respected and validated. So much so, that we often infringe upon the ideas of others, telling them how they should live their lives, or how they should fix their problems – because from our point of view, it’s painfully clear what they should do.
But it’s an insidious thing, giving advice. It takes an enormous amount of humility to realize that we fundamentally cannot know what is best for another human being. Even something as simple and objective as consuming a can of soda can become convoluted when looked at from multiple perspectives. To harp on that point: yes, we know sugar consumption is positively correlated with inflammation in the body. Yes, we know soda is terrible for one’s health. But how do I know for a fact that this person should be healthy, that this person is not better suited to hit rock bottom in their health in order to grow as a person? I could not know. It is a rather egocentric attitude, even when the desire to help another stems from a truly altruistic and well-intentioned place.
“Sometimes doing good to others, and even doing good to oneself, is amazingly destructive. Because it’s full of conceit. How do you know what’s good for other people? How do you know what’s good for you?” – Alan Watts
All too often, we forget that we are seeing reality from our limited perspective. We think that what we see is what there is. But we forget that the person sitting across from us sees an entirely different side of the room – and even in this one small instance, we can appreciate how their reality is already much different.
“We could have a plague of virtuous people.” – Alan Watts