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The enemy you don't destroy, will eventually destroy you


Perseus with the head of Medusa. Piazza della Signoria, Florence -Italy Photo by Joseph Earnest


by Joseph Earnest April 5, 2013  

Newscast Media HOUSTON, TexasOne of the laws that governs life is that the enemy you don't destroy, will eventually destroy you.  It might be an addiction, a habit, a lifestyle or something tangible that you can see or touch.  Yet this is perhaps one of the most ignored laws of life.

There are marriages right now that are being destroyed because one of the spouses has a toxic habit that is interfering with their sacred vows, or has allowed a third party to do so.  There are people who have health issues that are destroying them, because of the kind of foods they eat or the places they shop. Friendships have been destroyed because the enemy was gossip.  That obstacle that is slowly destroying your career, friendships, health, whatever it may be, is something that started, and you let it grow. You tolerated it, and now you cannot get rid of it.

Even the alcoholic, started with just one sip, but because he or she failed to destroy that habit, it is destroying that person. Gambling starts with just one visit to the casino, but eventually it can evolve into an addiction affecting people's relationships or business decisions.

Take for instance pride, if one does not destroy that vice in its infancy, it can be destructive without one realizing it. The ego is responsible for that. Battles have been lost because of pride. Business dealings have been cancelled because of pride. Apologies have been withheld because of pride. It is a very lethargic enemy that if not checked, can even lead to loss of life. Alexander The Great was plagued with pride. Marc Anthony, Goliath and many others have been its victims.

Years ago in 2004, I went to a certain university to inquire about certain courses. I spoke to the admissions officer.  I was almost sold on enrolling, so I asked him about their computer lab.  He said it was one of the best in the state.  I showed him certain certifications and asked if those courses would transfer to that college. His reply was, "Of course they will transfer.  You got these certifications almost two years ago, it is obvious they haven't helped you, or else you wouldn't be here inquiring about enrolling at this university."  I smiled and thanked him for his information.  That was the last time he saw me. I sensed a certain arrogance in his tone, and I decided not to spend a dime at that university knowing my tuition would pay his salary.

As fortune would have it, an even better private university offered me an academic scholarship, all I had to do was show up for class. The previous college thought it was too prestigious to be courteous to its applicants, yet another better one had the humility not only to be courteous, but also reward those who demonstrated academic strength.

If you've ever tried to trade in your used vehicle for another one, you probably have experienced the arrogance of the salespeople. They do what they call a "walkaround". This is where a salesperson walks slowly around your car and starts insulting it, trying to make you think it is a worthless piece of junk. The point is to devalue it, in order for them to give you the least amount of money, so they can turn around and sell it at a greater profit margin. I will use this Socratic dialogue to illustrate my point.

YOU: So how much would you appraise my vehicle for?

SALESMAN: There are a lot of things wrong with it.

YOU: Like what?

SALESMAN: First, it has a ding, we'll have to do an entire paint-job to remove it. Second, the mileage is too high, so that puts it in a "high risk" category. Third it is red, and people don't particularly like red cars because they stand out. Fourth, these domestic vehicles do not have high resale values like foreign-made ones. Fifth, the seats are made of cloth, which lowers its value even more because it is vulnerable to tears, cuts, and liquid spills that can create stains, Sixth, the tires need alignment, because we can't resell it in its current condition. Seventh, due to the high mileage, if it has never had an "engine knock" I guarantee you, it will very soon.  We don't want to face lawsuits so we would have to rebuild the engine for the sake of safety. Eighth, the transmission will fall out anytime...the high miles cannot sustain it much longer. Ninth, it doesn't have a sun-roof. This is Texas, everybody has to have one, which makes your car even less attractive. Tenth...

YOU: (Interrupting)  Tell you what...I have to bounce, but why don't you give me your business card, I'll call you when I'm not tied-up, and we'll pick up where we left off.

SALESMAN: You do that, I'll be waiting for your call.

The point is, such a person is driven by pride and arrogance and is unable or unwilling to see the benefits of having a satisfied customer who could increase his sales through referrals. Likewise, many people in politics, religion, business or on the social scene are making decisions based on pride, and after it costs them later in life, they ask themselves, "What if....?"

What if I had reached out to so and so, I would not be facing this conflict. What if I had issued an apology, I might still be friends with so and so. What if I had been honest in my dealings, I would not be facing this lawsuit and possible jail. What if I had picked up the phone when so and so tried to make amends, it might have led to something fruitful. What if I had finished college, my life might have taken a different direction. What if I had made that trip, or accepted that invitation, I might have looked back at that moment with satisfaction.  What if I hadn't killed the hope of a student who had big dreamshe or she might have not turned to gangs for affirmation or become a whore, and could possibly have become a great statesman or woman.  What if I told my loved ones I loved them more often, my kind words might have healed our wounds. What if I had said yes? What if I had so no? What if I had run for office? What if I had started my own business? What if I had dialed that number? What if I married younger? What if I married older? What if...?

Nobody should live a life filled with "what ifs" because a life lived in regret is a life half lived. Don't let regret destroy you because it will prevent you from enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Don't take yourself too seriously, but laugh at your mistakes or failures sometimes. It's not the end of the world. Live a little.  Add Comments>>











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