CONSENSUS OF INCOMPATIBLES
On a TV show, a shrink quotes her late husband, also a shrink, “There is no humanity, there are only humans…” and I now paraphrase the rest, “and each is driven and attracted in his or her own way.” The point being what passes for the good and the just is fragile consensus. and this is a consensus of incompatibles that is always a mixture and never a solution. Sorry about the pun. No, I take that back, I’m not sorry. OK, I am sorry, but not that way.
Back in the day friendship was necessary and sufficient. We all had common ground and similar standings. We were all stuck in the same classrooms, bars and on the same shop floors. Our fantasies while not identical were compatible and therefore could be shared without much strife. Then life happened, and in the reality of its hierarchies, camaraderie fell away and competition took its place. Friendship, though still necessary, was no longer sufficient.
Love—we were told—would fill the gap. We believed this, at least while we were riding the high. It seemed to be to be friendship mixed with lust. We optimists hoped tolerance could be a save-the-relationship reactant added before the volatile friendship/lust mixture evaporated—or worse, exploded. But as we soon found out tolerance would only stabilize bad choices made while intoxicated by youth, lust and fantasy. But bad choices they’d remain, so what would be the point?
A decade or two on, as we grew into our individual selves, we also grew into comfortable and comfortable with us social niches. then some of us became more valuable to society than others and the common ground and similar standing—in other words, friendships—of youth began to break up. New relationships formed and they mimicked but were not friendships, as they were based on utilitarian compatibility.
The workplace is what replaced the common grounds of youth. There reciprocal usefulness counts more than camaraderie. The gestures and arenas of friendship remain, but in the workplace hierarchy, these were often deceptive. Even if you hang out with Co-workers on weekends are not your friends, They can be one promotion away from being a boss or subordinate so it’s best not reveal to much over beers.
Then there are your bosses, who are even more unlike friends, mentors, teachers, a parents or anyone else you associated with in your youth. Don’t buy their PR lies that they are on your side. Your boss is not concerned about your success unless he or she profits from it as well. Beware that if there appears an opportunity that is more profitable for this boss, one where you are not included, out you go.
Another social niche that appears before life’s half way mark is marriage. In theory, it is an extension of love and at its best, it substitutes the above mentioned tolerance fix for a more business-like compromise. The often unspoken quid pro quos seem to work, but not always or for long. Sometimes the marriage becomes too business-like, and the friendship and lust fade away. So that if there appears an opportunity that is more profitable for this spouse, one where you are not included, out you go. Just like at work.