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The benefit of learning experiences

“Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person you will pass  in the street today, is going to die. Living long enough, each will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime? “—Sam Harris

This is a favorite quote of mine, one I frequently reflect upon and use for inspiration. Often I’ve wondered why we humans make life so difficult for each other. It seems that since the dawn of time, our history is filled with stories of us causing trouble for one another. One needs only look at the good book to find copious examples. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of his coat and so conspired to get rid of him. David coveted the wife of a friend and sent him into battle to be killed. Countless people walked by a man who had been beaten until a good Samaritan came along. Cain certainly didn’t do his brother any favors.

In literature Dickens is full of examples of people making life more difficult for others. The adults in “Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn” are always making life tougher for the children not to mention poor Jim. Alexandre Dumas explored this theme with his “Man in the Iron Mask.” Why do we do this? Why do we choose to treat people this way?

Looking at people from this perspective my thoughts turn to a gross simplification of “there are two kinds of people in this world.” The first are the people who figure they have had it rough, they’ve been through it, had to earn their way, pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and by golly, everyone else should have to as well. There’s something to be said for self reliance, building self confidence and gaining the skills to make one’s way through the world.

The other kind of person feels that they went through it and they don’t ever want anybody else to ever have to go through what they did. Parents often want their children to have a better life than they did, to go further in their careers, make more money, have a better house. What they fail to realize is that without the benefit of the learning experiences the parents had, some of them very tough, a child may not come out with all the skills and character necessary to be successful in this world. The child may not want that particular career, that house. They may define happiness at a different monetary level.

As in many stories and in much of human interaction, there are no easy answers. There is no simple right or wrong. One can explore this theme though, in many books both fiction and nonfiction. Come down to the local library and staff will be happy to point you in the proper direction. I promise we will do our utmost to make this part of your life easier.

About the author

Paul Paladino

Paul Paladino

Paul is the Montrose Library District Director