And then there are those

March 2000

And then there are those who at times behave in a seemingly altruistic manner under the erroneous belief that such behavior is providing others a clear demonstration of how they should act toward us. A wise organizational development consultant pointed out this fantasy to me years ago, using the example of people who keep on nurturing and nurturing, hoping against hope that the nurtured will nurture them back. (As the excessively industrious, well organized, honest or courteous imagine that their example will inspire others to improve their own conduct.)

But, of course, the world doesn’t work this way, as many a mother can attest. Some are made to give, others to receive. Some to work long hours and complain, others to leave early and rationalize. Some hear the call to give, and they respond, and may or may not find pleasure in giving or in feeling of use; whereas others do not hear the call, or pretend not to—or they may hear another, not unusual call: to open their arms and accept what people around them are so eager or anxious to give. In any case, the receivers are rarely looking for opportunities to help others. If no one is taking care of them, their first thought is to get some attention. If they’re being well cared for, they’re content.

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