It is absurd to divide people into good or bad. People are either charming or tedious. – Oscar Wilde
What does that mean?
There are many ways to divide people. By the color of their skin. By the value of their character. By their level adherence to our beliefs (good vs bad). By their ethnic or national origin. By their political views. The list is nearly endless, isn’t it?
This quote gives us yet another way to divide people. Not that I’m a big fan of dividing people, but I found that the quirkiness of this quote was simply too great to resist.
The author of the quote was, by some accounts, quite the man-about-town and quite fond of parties. He was also possessed a razor sharp wit, which he often used on others. I know not whether he is poking fun at the social class, or being funny, but it points out that we tend to divide people along the axis which is most important to us.
This quote implies that the ability to be pleasant in social company is far more important that good vs bad. To someone who liked to party, and didn’t care who they partied with, so long as they were fun, it might make sense. The question it caused me to ask myself was “What is my primary axis, the line across which I divide people?”
Why is knowing what is acceptable important?
What is too much for you to take? What is the line, which if someone crosses, is just too much? What do they have to do to be moved from the good to the bad, or from the charming to the tedious? Even more interesting is the question about how you divide people.
If you don’t know what is acceptable (and by inference, what is not), and if you don’t know how you divide people, you will have trouble figuring out when a person has crossed the line. You will also have trouble determining what to do with a new person.
By having a clear idea about what is important to you, and what is important for your friends to be (or not to be), you can more easily deal with relationships in general. If you have no rules, you will likely get along at some level with nearly everyone. The more sharp your rules, the better you will get along with those on the preferred side, and the worse with those on the other, right?
Where can I apply this in my life?
Personally, I don’t really care for dividing people into groups. However, we all have rules for what is or isn’t right, in our own view. The only question is this; Have you thought about these rules, or are they simply a collection you have accumulated over the years?
I prefer to try to live my life by design, rather than by accident. Over the years, different things were important to me, and became the primary dividing line for me. While I was in school, where you went to school was important to me, and people who attended a rival school were not exactly my favorite people.
Today, I generally recognise people as having learned from any particular mistake and those who have yet to learn. However, instead of labeling them dumb, bad, or even tedious, I strive to help them understand what just happened, and how they might better approach things next time.
How do you divide people? What is important to you? For some, race, religion, or country of origin is still the most important thing to them. For others, it is a political philosophy, or even a single issue. Have you ever seen a person throw away a friendship over what seemed a trivial point?
All I can say is that to the person, that point was not trivial, right? They thought it was so important that it was worth alienating someone who used to be a friend over it. My question would be regarding the amount of time the person had given the idea over which they had banished a friend.
It isn’t that I dislike people who have a strong opinion, as I have a few myself. What I dislike is when people have strong opinions which they cannot back up in any way shape or form. If they can’t explain why they would throw away a friend over that idea, to me, that’s just silly.
Take a moment and consider what sort of things you would consider so important that you’d be willing to lose a friend. What would start a fight, either literal or figurative? What really constitutes “crossing the line” for you? Grab some paper and write a few of them down.
Mine include taking advantage of those unable to defend themselves. That is a behavior of which I am not very tolerant. What about you? Is there a pattern to your rules? Do any of them contradict each-other? Do any seem a little silly when you write them down?
I’m not here to judge what is or is not appropriate. I am simply asking you to consider how you divide others, and if those rules make any sense. Some might have been learned as a child, in a different area or even a different era. Do they still apply to you and who you are today?
From: Twitter, @iheartquotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/o/oscarwilde134608.html
Photo by carlos.a.martinez