Monday, June 11, 2018

Why No Good Deed Goes Unpunished


I shan't go into the details, but many years ago when the Captain was but an innocent lieutenant, he met a person.  Said person was simply a younger version of the then already-younger Captain.  Still, despite my age the parallels between this person and myself were uncanny.  It was like looking into a time warp and seeing my younger self. 

Naturally my instinct was to warn the kid about what to expect, what was coming down the pike, and in general to make his life infinitely easier than mine had been.  With a few tweaks and adjustments, a few key important life lessons, this kid would avoid the hellish nightmare I went through and come out the other end happier, more successful, and very likely a higher life expectancy.

No dice. 

For what transpired was a slow, but inexorable decline of merely continuing the path the kid was already on. 

I'd suggest he hit the gym.
No.

I'd suggest he start learning a skill or trade.
No.

I'd suggest he take college classes, CLEP out, WGU online, anything to get a jump on his education and career.
No.

I'd suggest he read Bachelor Pad Economics.
No.

And so I witnessed Cappy v 2.0 slow-motion crash into the ground.  All I could do was yell like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2 for the plane to "PULL UP!!!" (3:15 mark) but had about the same amount of success.

This would be the first in a series of major instances where people I cared about would not listen to me and suffer dire consequences.  Matter of fact, so common did it become that people would ignore my warnings or advice, that I was forced to coldly accept there was nothing I could do to help them.  I would be watching a lot of planes crash and why have two people suffer?  I conditioned myself to truly not care about things I didn't control.  Matter of fact, why not make money on warning people, giving zero damn about the results?  You at least got some money out of the deal and that was better than having two people suffer.  Alas, the cold, callous, indifferent, and Machiavellian Cappy you all love and cherish today was born.

However, dour and dark as I've become, the absolute refusal of loved ones in my life to improve themselves forced my brain to explore and solve some of humanity's odd contradictions.  The foremost of which was "why no good deed goes unpunished."  And after dedicated the majority of my hike today towards solving that problem, I think I have.

The first thing to understand is your pride and ego are likely the primary cause of you getting punished for any good deeds you do.  No matter how noble and selfless your intentions to help somebody, it still stings, if not, is outright insulting that your wisdom, help, and advice goes unheeded.  This is your problem, not theirs.  Your advice could be right.  Your wisdom could be 100% spot on.  You could indeed save that person's life.  But whether that person listens to you and acts on your advice is moot.  You've done your good deed.  Now it is out of your hands.  The "aftermath" is simply validation for your ego and the "insult" when they don't heed your advice is merely bruising of your pride. 

Let it go.  You do not control it and you are not entitled to having others "value your wisdom."  You simply are punishing yourself taking umbrage when you are not listened to.

The second thing to understand is the source of most punishment when you try to do a good deed.  If you help a wounded dog, move a turtle off the road, or do something to some animal there is usually no retribution.  Animals don't interact with humans.  But when you help a human you have now exposed yourself to an infinite amount of possible subsequent decisions and actions that human will make/commit due to your good deed.  And not all these possible outcomes are good.  You could get a person to stop drinking and they will go onto hard drugs.  You could get a person not to have a kid they can't afford, but their spouse may hate you for that.  You could convince a young man to join the military, but his mom will blame you if he gets shot in Iraq.  Not matter what your intentions (let alone responsibility) the fact your help was acted upon will, in the eyes of people you help, make you partly responsible for ALL outcomes, good or bad.

Third (and closely related to the second point) when people need help there's usually a reason.  And that reason is they're usually losers.  Admittedly there's some truly innocent people (kids for example), but adults that need help have screwed up somewhere along the line and are to blame for their own situation 9 out of 10 times.  This means bad decision making is endemic to them and their lifestyles.  Illegitimate kids.  Crime.  Worthless degreesUncontrolled spending.  Dating bad boys.  Dating T n' A without the brains or responsibility.  Or simple outright laziness and sloth.  Yes, a truly statistically rare and bad thing may have happened to somebody you care about, but more often than not, adults who need your help are perpetual bad decision makers.  They may take your advice this one time, but whatever fruits come from that will quickly be thrown away the next bad decision they make.  Plugging one one-inch hole in a sinking ship that has a 10 yard section blown off by a torpedo is still going to sink. 

Finally, laziness.

This one I find particularly hurtful because in my professional life you see many people espousing strong work ethics, conservatism, independence, and excellence, but the percent who actually pursue it is shockingly low.  They are merely theoreticians much like a celebrity pastor who bangs a ton of his congregants and buys expensive toys.  Still, laziness manifests itself most commonly in people via their expectations of how much labor they will have to expend in life.

Let me state that again because this is a very important point and lesson to learn about humanity.

Laziness manifests itself most commonly where people have a view, ideology, or life philosophy where "X" amount of sweat, labor, and toil is going to be required to sustain them through their life.

When you introduce a course correction, advice, or just plain reality, that course correction almost ALWAYS requires that person expend WAY MORE effort and energy in their lives than what they were expecting.  And they simply do not have the courage, spine, or mental strength to admit it AND commit to it.

Telling a poor person the only way out of poverty is to stop watching TV, stop eating crap, to get off welfare, spend 4 years in school, and 35 years in a profession literally increases their life labor by 50 fold.

Telling the NEET who lives at home he/she needs to get out of the house, get themselves a job, learn a skill, and to put down the video games, increasing their life long labor commitment by 1,000%.

Telling Ms. Sociology Masters Graduate her degree is worthless and she has to go BACK to college and this time major in something MUCH MORE rigorous increases her expected life pain and suffering exponentially.

And the average human brain simply can't handle it.

Instead most of these people choose to live in denial, ne'er cutting their spending, ne'er learning a real skill, ne'er putting down the ho-ho's, ne'er hitting the treadmill, ne'er studying calculus, ne'er learning to do their own auto-maintenance, and ne'er putting others ahead of themselves to find true love.  They just kick the can down the road until they're like many of my clients where they're 58, divorced, fat, out of shape, physically ill, financially insolvent, with absolutely no hopes whatsoever of retiring before they die.  All because they were too damn lazy and too damn cowardly to admit what life was REALLY going to take to be successful, and thus their fear is what drove them to ignore your advice.

The problem is, more often than not, your advice forces them to look into this dark mirror and their inherent laziness strikes back at you.  Additionally, their ego and pride take offense because you are essentially pointing out the truth - that they are a loser who will never succeed in life unless they change.  This cuts too deep and 9 out of 10 times they will stop being your friend, tell you to pound sand, or lecture you saying "how dare you tell me how to live my life!!!"  Try telling a high school graduate his choice to major in theater is stupid as all hell.  Try telling a careerist 35 year old woman who wants to have kids her most fertile years were a decade and change ago.  Try telling a NEET he'll get diabetes if he doesn't put down the mountain dew and XBox controller. And try telling a dudebro $30,000naire he won't "fake it till he makes it."  You are guaranteed to incur vitriol and hatred, no matter how much you're trying to help them.

The truth is nobody likes the truth, and if you're going to dispense it, I suggest you charge a pretty penny for it.  In the meantime, do not do any good deeds.  There's no market for it.  You don't deserve the punishment.  And the beneficiaries of your good deeds won't appreciate it. 
______________________
If you liked this post check out the BEST OF Captain Capitalism via his two "best of" books.

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18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great stuff!

Anonymous said...

Great stuff!

Tucanae Services said...

"Strike not the iron till it is of heat."

The problem of giving advise is that most are not ready for it. Of the 5% who are half will reject it as too hard as you suggest. That is why I rarely give it anymore, especially when it involves money.

Used to be when all else failed the College of Hard Knocks would educate the waif. I am not so sure these days. I suspect the majority don't even recognize that they are matriculated at CofHK.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to believe only massive economic collapse and starvation can save the West, as tragic as this may sound. So many people want to financially benefit off of the work of fewer and fewer truly productive individuals.

Robert said...

"The truth is nobody likes the truth, and if you're going to dispense it, I suggest you charge a pretty penny for it."

Probably the single most important sentence I've read on any blog in the past 5 years.

Excellent, sir. Excellent.

Anonymous said...

You write from a place of wisdom born of frustration. I hear that. After years as a prosecutor, I came to accept that you cannot fix stupid. Rehabilitation is a pipe dream pursued not for results but for reasons of economy. All that truly works is quarantine or euthanize. We don't let rabid dogs loose in society. Until cold-hearted logic prevails, frustration will remain.

Faithless Cynic said...

This gets my vote for BEST CAPPY POST EVER. I have tried to stop people I care about from drinking and other self destructive acts. The result? The asshole kept drinking and now, an amazingly talented writer is reduced to a box of ashes under a granite slab. Guess that best seller will never be written.

You could go insane trying to figure out why. The best I can figure is some people are " programmed " to self destruct. Nothing to be done. You can no more change the path these people take than change the trajectory of an artillery shell. i went to a funeral a couple of weeks ago. A smart, handsome, athletic young man with everything going for him. Dead of a drug overdose. Left a wife and a child. I never messed with drugs and know very little about them. I guess his desire to get high over rode his desire to raise his child. Fucking sad beyond all logic.

Take care of yourself Mon Capitan.

Travis said...

I finally figured this out earlier this year. I have a similar situation with my brother and my mother. My mother has a dementia diagnosis and is quickly devolving into full blown Alzheimer's, my brother is a (barely) functioning raging alcoholic.

My dad died of Parkinson's mid-March, and I was the only one competent to handle his hospice care. He didn't want to die in a nursing home, rather at his own home, and so I basically took six weeks to care for him while Parkinson's killed him in a most gruesome manner. Really very bad, but sedation works to stop the suffering.....

In the midst of this I caught the flu from spending a few days in a hospital with him in early February, the height of the epidemic, and was on my feet for about 20 hours a day for a good while and caused some vein problems in my legs. I got better.

Despite my charity, I was met with unrelenting hostility from my demented mother, really off the charts hostile. She called the police once, and then could not recall why when they asked her. My brother showed up with literally a trunk load of beer in his car and just thought he's have a nice binge drinking session while Dad croaked out. I had to be VERY harsh with him to get him to leave, and even the nice social worker lady from the hospice company agreed that in this case he had to go.

My mother I just had to tolerate. It was insanely hard. But my dad didn't suffer much. There is a lot more to this story......

The both of them need a lot of help, which I would like to give them, but I believe that they are at this point both insane and so biased against me that they would not take ANY advice, and so the best thing to do imho is write them off and hope they stumble upon the correct course of action.

I am not optimistic, but I am also not worried, because I have chosen not to give a damn.

BriarRabbit said...

Using your transmoggrification redux time assimilator, please send this post to 16 year old me. I'll forward payment post haste.

John Berresford said...

One of your best.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:18 PM, very well stated!!!!! Now if we could magically add that mentality to the flu shot, think of how many morons, without knowing why, would change their thinking and demand the necessary changes?!

Klaus said...

The Germans have a blunt saying,

"The person who won't listen, must feel"

("Der, der nicht hoeren will, muss fuehlen")

Paul, Dammit! said...

One of the most difficult parts of making wise judgement and trying to pass it on is that you make yourself a dealer in the subjective, and, as such, your opinions, ideas, experience, whatever, can be attributed to subjective experience, which can be minimized or excused as irrelevant easier than objective information.

Example: I have worked a 100-hour week on average since I was 18. Anyone able bodied who works less than 100 hours a week to me is lazy. Lazy is fine. It's a value judgement, and some people don't care or value their leisure time differently than I do. However, to me, anyone who works less than 100 hours a week and complains about money is a lazy and stupid barking rectum of a person. They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind, and complain that the results are predictable.

Is that a fair judgement? I think so. You may not.

Faithless Cynic said...

One of my (thankfully) ex tenants is on the failure and death track. He is a 55 year old alcoholic and pot head. He makes 50K a year but owns nothing but a beater car and a hostile, skanky wife. Imagine being a 55 year old male whose sole purpose in life is to get drunk and/or high. He lives in a rental, has zero savings or 401K, and is one layoff away from being homeless. Can you imagine not owning a home at age 55 and depending on a landlord to shelter your ass? All available income goes to booze and pot.

You can no more fix this asshole than fly. I will laugh when his liver fails and his skank wife becomes homeless. They trashed my rental and were so verbally abusive I told them to GTFO. Better a vacancy than dealing with these assholes.

joseph fisher said...

This excellent chapter should be one of several in a discourse on the seven deadly sins and the opposite heavenly virtues.

Anonymous said...

" Can you imagine not owning a home at age 55 and depending on a landlord to shelter your ass?" 

Reality for the majority of swiss citizens. A home to own is still not so very much a concept of this state. I doubt it will ever be.


Wandering man said...

Some people are just bound and determined to learn things the hard way.

Wandering man said...

I hope I don't end up like that, as either the caregiver or the patient.