Asking, being asked, giving, & taking

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    I realize that sometimes ideas & opinions we hold about things might not be our own. They might have been passed down to us from our parents or they might be something that society has engrained in us. If we stop and think objectively about these things, we might catch ourselves holding opinions about things that are not logical, or even just plain stupid. I reevaluate my opinions from time to time and attempt to cull the stupid ones, in favor of more logical ones. The latest one I've had on my mind lately seems to be giving me some trouble; Asking, being asked, giving, & taking.

    In lieu of a treatise on what my current opinions are & why, I'll just jump right in with some examples.

    You are outside working on your fence. Your neighbor is a person who you rarely see and rarely talk to. You've never had more than a 1 min conversation with him and never about anything more intimate than the weather. In your toolbox are 2 identical hammers. Your neighbor walks up, talks to you about the fence and termites and bla bla. He mentions that he needs to do the same thing, probably tomorrow, and right as you're about to break that 1 min record, he just comes right out and asks you "Can I have one of your hammers?"
    How would this make you feel?
    As for me, I would be a little put off by it. The first thing that would come to my mind is "this is my hammer, I worked for it, why should you expect me to give it to you when you did no work for it?" The next thought would be "how inconsiderate. Why would you put me in this position? How do you know I can spare the hammer? What if I can't spare it? Now you make me be the 'bad guy' and tell you 'no'. Now every time you see me, you're going to think of me as 'that stingy guy'". Then after I had a couple of seconds to think about it, logic would come into play and I would probably think something along the lines of "well, he must know the position he's just put me in, and at the risk of tarnishing our neighborly 'relationship' he asked anyway. That must mean he really needs it. I have 2 so why not give him one?" Then I would give him the hammer.

    Now let's change it up. The same neighbor is outside working on his fence. You walk up, get into the same conversation about termites and you notice that he's pounding nails into the fence with a crescent wrench because he doesn't have a hammer.
    What would you do?
    I would immediately and joyously go get my extra hammer and give it to him.

    Now, what's the difference between those 2 scenarios? In both, he needs to fix his fence, doesn't have a hammer, I have an extra one, and I give it to him. So why was I put off in the first scenario just because he asked for it?

    Does anybody feel the same way as I do on the matter? Personally, I never ask for things, other than from my parents and my wife, and very selectively at that. It feels demeaning to me to ask for things. So wouldn't it stand to reason that other people feel the same way, and that if they ask, it means they really need it? But I don't think everybody does feel the same way. I think some people have no qualms about asking, and will ask all day if it gets them the things that they want easier than having to work for them. Maybe that's the reason for my subconsious apprehension about giving when asked. I don't want to be taken advantage of.

    So as you can see, I've worked myself almost all the way through this moral dilemma, but I fail to reach a final conclusion, whether I should just give anything & everything (within reason, and if I can spare it) if asked, or if I should continue to be "selfish", for lack of a better word. Obviously nobody can make that call for me, but I would still like to hear anybody's thoughts on it.
     
  2. JoeJester

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    Have or Borrow? I would be put off on the "can I have your hammer" request and mostly for the reasons you stated. I probably would offer him the use of my hammer if I saw him abusing that crescent wrench.

    Now if he "worked" on my fence without compensation and I considered the work "well worth' the price of my extra hammer, I might offer to give it to him as a gift, as I would think he certainly "earned" it. He may have offerred his labor out of the kindness of his heart and such kindness should be repaid in kind.
     
  3. THE_RB

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    Feb 11, 2008
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    The secret to negotiating is to make sure you have a good understanding of exactly how much power each party has in the negotiation. When he asked you for a hammer you have 100% power there.

    Having all the power you could choose to be nice to the powerless person and give him a hammer, if you wanted him to have it. If you don't actually want him to have your hammer you could exercise a little of your power and test him out. I would have asked; "did you want to borrow my hammer, or do you want me to actually GIVE it to you?" and asked in a real friendly fashion as there is no reason to be mean to the powerless person.

    If he asked to borrow it I would have exercised some more power and made very clear the time limit on the period of the loan, and again been real friendly.

    But if he had a bad attitude about it I would have told him to buy his own hammer (cheap hammers are only $4.99) or maybe asked a reciprocal loan "hey, can I borrow that cordless drill of yours that I saw you using the other day, and you can borrow my hammer?" further exercising your power in a way where if he doesn't like the fair trade deal you proposed then HE becomes the antisocial one.

    So basically, test him but in a friendly way. If he's a scumbag it will become pretty obvious and you are better off knowing that and NOT giving him your hammer than being fooled by a scumbag and giving him your hammer. ;)
     
  4. praondevou

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    I agree. I would actually never expect someone I rarely speak to to ask me to GIVE him something. I would just have assumed that he meant "borrow".
     
  5. MrChips

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    You can probably guess what my answer will be but this is a difficult one to answer honestly because we have all had time to think about it.

    Of course, for most of us, we would be somewhat put off by such a request especially if we do not know that person well enough, or if we do not know their disposition. Is this their normal attitude or manner of asking for things? Will this become a habit?

    The answer that comes to my mind is, gift it to him. You have two, one will do.

    (Besides I have read Charles Eisentein's works on the Gift Economy.)

    I have been teaching my children this philosophy - take no more than half of what is left of anything. By doing so, there will always be something left over for others to share.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2012
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  6. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
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    Awkard if there's 3 of you standing around the pickle jar.

    I too look for comparative value in any transaction. Sure, I'll lend you my hammer if you cut those posts down to size. You want me to give you my hammer, what do you have to offer in return. I give everyone the benefit of a doubt, and let them prove me wrong. A fair deal/trade is friendly, a good deal is hard to pass, but if you want to short me, get out of my f'in yard.
     
  7. praondevou

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    There are too many people that would just TAKE from you without giving anything in return. I personnally know a few of them. Until the other person understands that one day in the future it has to be "give and take" it doesn't work out.

    Charles is great, but I remember he admits in one of his speeches that the idea of the gift economy in ancient times may not be historically correct. It looked to me more like how he imagines the world could look like not how it actually did. It's not impossible but kind of hard to spread his spirit with all the comfort and goods people got used to.

    Sharing is good, recreating our lost sense of community is good, but IMO it will not necessarily mean "more for you is more for me". If I have to walk 10km to get to my next neighbor to borrow a hammer then this is great for community and maybe health, but will everybody choose it? Or will I choose to buy one for myself? Until now we did everything to achieve greatest possible comfort...
     
  8. THE_RB

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    I don't see it as an issue of whether you should give, as we all know giving is a wonderful thing.

    It's an issue of whether you should be pushed or needled into giving. Too many people who are really good people allow themselves to take a "victim role".

    And that is the real point. By giving in to his prompting and giving to him without question you are training the person to be a freeloader, a user of others. That is socially irresponsible and in the long term hurts him and others.

    I'm not saying you should be a tighfisted jerk that never helps others, I'm saying take a little time and a little of your power to find out WHO you are giving to, and IF giving to them is the right choice.

    If he's a nice guy that also gives back to others, then by all means make the gift. But if he's a user that is always prompting and bullying others into giving him a free ride don't automatically accept a victim role just because you are a really nice guy.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012
  9. Biff383

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    Jun 6, 2012
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    My first post. I've been following for a few years.
    My first question would be.....why the fence? Is it to keep the cows in or the neighbors out?
     
  10. strantor

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    ah so you want to take it 5 steps back in the "why do we do what we do & feel what we feel" game?

    I don't have a good answer. I would say, for anyone who doesn't have a dog, the answer is because the fence was there when they moved in, and the HOA dictates that they maintain it. But why again? For the same reason we grow grass, a non flowering, nonedible plant - Because popular opinion of society dictates it. If you don't do this, you are "trashy", even if you repair all your neighbors fences for free.

    If there were no HOA I would not have a fence or grass. Actually, as soon as I can afford it, I'm moving someplace rural.
     
  11. MrChips

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    My take on this is that fences went up when society began to acknowledge private land ownership and property rights.

    There was the time when land was considered a common and sheep were allowed to roam and graze freely. Then came the idea of "The Tragedy of the Commons" where it was suggested that adding one extra sheep would be at the detriment to all. It was felt that private ownership would lead to better care and management of resources.

    It wouldn't be long when water and air will no longer be considered commons and you will have to pay for access to clean water and air.
     
  12. Sparky49

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    Jul 16, 2011
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    Air can't be divided...

    Besides, to deny air is a violating of human rights.
     
  13. MrChips

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    Yes, but air can become so polluted that you can now pay to lie in a chamber and breathe clean air.
     
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  14. Sparky49

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    I wouldn't want to do that.

    I'll just man up.

    Or wear a mask. I'll get one for free when I join the RAF. :p
     
  15. strantor

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    I think the Native Americans would have said the same thing about land. "Land can't be divided...to deny land is a violation of human rights"

    I once heard (not sure where or if it was credible) that some notable Native American (don't remember who) commented something to the effect of "how can you own a piece of land? That's like owning a block of air." I really wish I could provide a refernce but I don't know what to google. But I'll trust that you get the idea, without a quote or a link.
     
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  16. #12

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    Nov 30, 2010
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    Yuuck. I hate the mud that happens when you don't have any grass.
     
  17. strantor

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    Well, I didn't say my yard would be a barren dirt lot ;)
     
  18. Sparky49

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    Turn it into a lake. I'll visit and pay you to let me fish it.
     
  19. strantor

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    damn good idea sparky, damn good.
     
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  20. Sparky49

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    Shouldn't that be dam good?

    I'll get my coat now... :p
     
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