#56 Other people’s battles
I remember getting the tap on the shoulder. I had just squared up, ready to throw the swing. I was caught and given detention for 2 weeks. It didn’t even seem fair. No blood no foul right? Funny thing was it wasn’t even my fight. It was middle school and I saw this bigger kid messing with a much smaller kid so I stepped in. I’d seen him mean mug a few other kids before but nothing like what he was doing to his latest victim. The little kid looked petrified. I wasn’t a big kid either, but I was scrappy and I could fight (you pick up a few things when you’ve been jumped as a kid). My mom told me it wasn’t my battle and that I could get seriously hurt getting into fights with bigger kids. She wasn’t wrong, I just didn’t see it that way. Someone needed help, so I stepped in.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying I’m some sort of altruistic character looking to help everyone out. If I’m being honest, it’s probably just a cry for help. I just abide by trying to do unto others what I would want for myself. I never got help as a kid. My dad was distant and practically non-existent for the better part of my developmental years. It was me figuring stuff out on my own. I studied on my own. Learned to program on my own. Became an adult on my own. Figured out what it meant to be a man on my own. I swore to do everything different and try to help people, because I didn’t want others to feel alone. If you really dig into it, I suppose it comes from an odd place of selfishness.
What it also boils down to is, I really hate bullies. I hate it when people pray on the weakness of others, where physical or emotional. It’s a bad way to live your life. When others say “meh, let them live their lives Tony” I disagree. If you’re not hurting people, fine. But if you’re going out of your way to put someone down, it’s wrong and I’ll say it (and I’m perfectly comfortable saying it to your face). One of the running jokes I have with my general counsel, Sean Greaney, is that I’d really like to change my middle name to Karma, so I can go around and tell people that “Karma finally got them.” We so often wait for someone else to do the right thing. To stand up for the little guy. Sometimes you should be the “Karma.” And if you can’t be macro karma helping your allies fight wars, then be the micro karma and help your community or your neighbor.
I used to commute over a long distance and would see cars stranded on the side of the road. I’d pull over and just watch the endless amounts of cars just pass the person by. So many opportunities to drop by and see if you can help. It takes a few minutes out of your day to help make someone exponentially happier and less miserable, but nope. Someone is clearly in need and just needs a helping hand and people drive past them. If you were that person, what would you want? How would you feel if the 100th or 1000th person passed you by and you didn’t know how to change a tire?
I’m not saying I do all of these things with no strings attached by the way. There are strings and I make them clear. If I help you, you gotta pay it forward to someone. It keeps the world moving in the right direction. And when people ask you why you help, you tell them they have to abide by the same pay it forward conditions. It also wouldn’t hurt if you said “Karma told me I had to.”