Cynicism

Cynicism, suspicion, doubt and mistrust are some of the things that we juggle with week to week. Locked away in our treasure chest of life experiences are the testimonies of life that we’ve accumulated along the way. Love is the strongest emotion we have here on earth….but unfortunately, it too can be used as a weapon against us. Therefore, it’s quite easy for people to feel, after awhile, a little battle-scarred and suspicious about some subjects, occupations and people.

It’s simple to understand that in one hand, we hold all of the beautiful and successful experiences that have happened to us…..in the other hand we hold the mistakes, hurt, and pain that have accumulated over the years. Each time we are confronted with a new person, place or thing, we wonder which hand it will end up in. Learning is essential to avoid future pitfalls…for if we make the same mistake over and over again, what have we learned?

I would like to share a little story with you that I was privy to a few years ago. Mark and Sal together owned a glass company. One day Mark discovered that Sal had been slowly siphoning money out of their business bank account and spending it on himself at will. Mark was devastated, to say the least….he could not believe that his trusted friend would do this to him and their business. Mark confronted Sal and said, “Sal, why did you do this to me? What did I ever do to you to warrant this behavior?” Sal’s reply was chilling….”There’s a sucker born every day.” This is a true story. Sal had no problem doing what he did. To him, Mark was just one more sucker to take advantage of. The friendship, you ask? Well, that went out the window. Mark decided to buy out Sal’s part of the business and today, Mark has one of the most successful glass businesses in New York City. What happened to Sal? He just declared bankruptcy for the second time!! Mark shared with me his thoughts on this fiasco just a few months ago. He said, “Jennifer, for me, a partnership doesn’t work. You think you know the person you’re in business with, and then after ten years you discover they’re a cockroach.” The point is, through experience, Mark has built up a cynicism to being involved with anybody else through ownership. I said to Mark, “It could have been just one bad apple.” Mark replied, “Tell that to my bank account that is a quarter of a million dollars lighter.” We all have had bad experiences with other people…how we process and go forward really matters. Cynicism by itself can destroy the human spirit…but if you take a bad experience and do something positive with it, it can help heal the wound. Mark did just that. To add one more little piece to the equation, I will share with you a line that my friend Victor always says….”Jennifer, only be good to good people….because bad people will think you’re a sucker.” I must remember to ask Mark if that is good advice…..

Cynicism can be valuable to a point…..but we must never let it rob us of our humanity. People do make mistakes, and overcome them. If we were to cut people off the first time they hurt us there would be no room for forgiveness and conciliation. It falls to each one of us to find the balance that we can handle between love and cynicism within our lives.

May you find the balance,
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2001 Jennifer Avalon

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