I'm a big fan of generosity and, honestly, it seems to be just about nowhere lately. By generosity, I mean extending yourself, putting yourself in someone else's shoes, considering other points of view, and acting as if you believe that what goes around comes around, that you get what you give. I don't find any of these notions faulty as operating principles. I believe wholeheartedly in all of them and I think they're responsible for the success and happiness I've enjoyed throughout my life. It's when I've departed from them and gotten self-absorbed, meaner-spirited, short-sighted that things have headed south.
Well, it seems that too many people have gotten self-absorbed, meaner-spirited, and short-sighted. From people who don't acknowledge gifts or favors, to those who blithely and repeatedly ask for contributions, accommodations and other support when they've utterly ignored your similar requests for same, to so-called friends and colleagues who can't be bothered to answer (or, for all I know, even read) email, to intolerance of every point of view but one's own (and corresponding ugly diatribes against the personal characteristics of dissenters), to bait-and-switching employees and customers, to countless instances of unreliability and petty nastiness - it all just seems to be everywhere.
Why is this? Are people now so self-absorbed that they have no problem asking and taking without any intention of answering and giving? Someone once explained totally churlish behavior to me by saying, "Well, people are very busy." Huh? I don't think being busy is an adequate excuse for being an asshole. Someone else once offered, "She had cancer, you know," as if that were somehow an excuse for discourtesy and unreliability.
I don't get it. Why are we tolerating and looking for ways to excuse bad behavior? What happened to treating others the way you'd like to be treated, being where you promised to be when you promised to be there, doing what you said you'd do, supporting your friends and colleagues, doing your part to make the world a better and more comfortable place for yourself and the people around you? You don't act this way in the expectation of getting more back (although that's exactly what happens). You act this way because it's the right way to act. Who doesn't know this? It's indisputable.