25. Don’t point; you might have a dirty fingernail

It’s an interesting upshot when a conclusion can be drawn that is both right and wrong — or in the case of Benny’s ambling reflections, right but with an aspect that is shown to be in need of a re-visit when the overall circumstances are teased out a bit.

Mr Pants, as he put it, had an issue — and it was a sticky one, that Benny himself also admitted to being in danger of stepping into. In order for a contrast in approaches to be illustrated by example, the foible of another person’s egoistic mannerisms was probably useful — just to underline the sort of thing that could be avoided. But the example in itself is not necessarily helpful — certainly not to the person concerned, and also not to anyone making that observation about the perceived defect.

It’s hard to deny that a consequence of speaking out about someone else’s less-than-perfect ways is an unspoken assumption on the part of the speaker to being better than that. Making comments and judgements about someone else naturally infers that the critic thinks they know more, and this was the case — and the danger — with Benny’s example. Building oneself up through talking about another’s defects is generally an empty exercise; and I’ve seen it before. The fact is, most or probably all people have something that needs fixing, or at the very least that needs improving. Just as Benny came to realise that it can be the more difficult people he has to deal with in his life who he should probably be most grateful towards, because they provide material to work with and to learn from, so too could he view the examples of defective humans that incidentally came his way.

So there’s a give-and-take aspect operating, which is an appropriate way of stating the dynamics here. Give, take. Sending out, receiving back. There’s got to be some allowance made for all the shortcomings of people out there, because Benny is out there too. If he didn’t have defects, he wouldn’t be absorbing, now and then, the observations and the lessons that flow over his life — and there’d be no need for me to catch some of that and make it stick. So while it may take constant reminding, Benny I felt would eventually see that there’s not much at all helpful about pointing out other people’s defects — he had plenty of his own to keep him occupied.

< Chapter 24 Chapter 26 >

Chapter index and link to slogans