Interpersonal Social Equity
by Jake Block
If you’ve read my essay work in the archives of The Sect of the Horned God, you might remember a piece I wrote, called The Law of Diminished Returns and Me. In that piece, I wrote, “As individuals we all have the right to determine our personal currency for emotional, intellectual or materiel support of another, be it in kind or in services, but no one gives for free. It doesn’t happen. If you go to the bank and you take the check, you pay interest and you thereby support the dealings and growth of the bank. And like it or not, the bank then has an interest in YOU… you owe. You pay them back and the deal is over… you regain that amount of autonomy you surrendered in the economic exchange. Same thing applies in interpersonal relations. In investing my time and my intellectual or emotional capital in YOU, I will naturally expect something in return, either in YOUR intellectual or emotional support, or if you are unable to provide that… perhaps in loyalty or in some other method of reciprocal support.”
I firmly believe in this “law,” both in business and in interpersonal relationships. As long as there is a meeting of the minds and there is mutual agreement and understanding of what each party of the parts needs, then things are great between us, and we travel down the road together, hand in hand, happy and prospering. But there are times that people say what they think will get them in my good graces, and I might fall for their line in a moment of weakness, or perhaps because I see some unique value in their association, and I will accept them into my circle of “associates.” Going beyond that point to my circle of “friends” and further still into my circle of “confidantes” requires a period of sharing and performance in principal.
Now, I’m not playing elitist when I say that there are some things in people that will eliminate them from consideration to be in my sphere of association. I simply don’t have any interest in some things that others might find stimulating and enhancing of THEIR lives. I long ago learned that if everyone else is doing something, it’s a sure and certain indicator that I shouldn’t. Add to that that there are things that I simply have no common interest in because of my personal choices, and it makes no difference to me it one or one million other people enjoy, embrace or revere that practice or commodity.
For example, those who deal in or use drugs for recreational purposes need not apply. I don’t care what you put into your body on your own time, but I’m not a user of drugs, and other than a beer once in a while, or a glass of wine on a rare occasion, I’m pretty much a non-drinker. So the idea of sitting around people who are drunk on their ass or stoned really doesn’t interest me. Now, I know about drugs from my life on the streets of E. St. Louis, and my time in Vietnam. In both places, there were opportunities to experiment with any number of illicit drugs. In Vietnam, alcohol flowed like water and was so cheap that anyone who wanted a beer… or more… could have it 24/7.
If you’re trying to entice me to invest in one of your get rich quick schemes, I’m sorry, but I’m fairly conservative as to when and where I invest my funds these days. A few hard-learned lessons about sure things over the years has schooled me well, and it’s a matter of “once bitten, twice shy.” Loan you money? Make an appointment with my people and I will get back to you a week from never. Same goes for Tupperware, time-shares, Amway and a host of other pyramid schemes that promise me a fortune in return for “a few measly thousand dollars.” It’s not that I am adverse to stocks and bonds or investing in general. I have stocks that have done well, and are doing well today, but I invested with companies that have a track record of making money in the market.
President George H.W. Bush famously said about broccoli that he never, ever, wanted to see another sprig of broccoli on his plate, whether he was on Air Force One or at the White House or anywhere else in the land. ”I do not like broccoli,” the President said, responding to queries about a broccoli ban he has imposed aboard Air Force One, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!”
Now, I personally LIKE broccoli. I order it at fine restaurants and include it in several dishes I cook here at home, but were I to be in the company of President Bush (unlikely as that is to ever have happened) I would have acceded to his wishes. His circus, his monkeys. “When in Rome…”
I expect nothing less when someone is in MY domain. Those with whom I would share my time are those with whom I share an intellectual, philosophical, aesthetic and yes, even an affinity towards social conventions that are compatible with my own. Now, it is true that you learn a lot from people who are different than yourself; people who have different philosophies and lifestyles, and that’s ok when that learning aspect is what I am seeking. But when I am looking to relax and enjoy, not actively being a teacher or a student, I am most probably going to want to do it with people who enhance my enjoyment of the event, and those with whom I won’t find myself in some drawn out counter-philosophical argument or working with the aesthetic of my personal environment. If I and enjoying a dinner in an upscale restaurant, with a steak and a glass of wine, I don’t want to spend the evening with a radical vegan, teetotaling social activist ranting about how many poor people never get to eat a fine meal in a nice restaurant. They can think or do whatever the hell they like in their own time and place, but when they are in my element, I expect that small concession for my time.
You should as well, because time is the one commodity that we can’t replace or buy more of. And, if you are a Satanist, you’ll surely remember the words of the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth. “When in another’s lair, show him respect, or do not go there.”
It boils down to respect for others in your life, and the respect that they return to you as a friend, colleague, mentor or student. If we care enough to extend an invitation and respect each other enough to accept one, it’s the least we can do.