French people have a special personality: they feel really comfortable to be assholes in public. They go in front of you at the bakery, they push everyone to enter the bus, sales representatives have no problem telling you that you bother them when they should be helping you, etc… I suppose it’s a latin thing.
Here in Canada I was surprised by people being polite. I did not understand why they were waiting in line in front of a bus stop when I first got here. If you want to spot French tourists in Montreal, just look at those who have no problem entering the bus in front of a 50 people waiting line. I was a little embarrassed when friends of mine did that and when I explained to them the Montreal bus habits ; they often told me “ well… nothing prevented others to be faster than me”. According to French standards, it’s ok, but in Canada, reacting like this is a serious case of assholery. Oh… and I’m not saying I’m all nice and stuff. I am an asshole too. For example, another public transportation “rule” here is to get up and leave your seat so kids can sit down. I have no problem doing it for grandpas or pregnant ladies … but kids seriously? I suppose parents want them to stay calm but it is not my problem if their kids got high on Mountain Dew at Disney on Ice. And for all I care, if the bus breaks and these kids fall down, they won’t fall from as high as an adult would and their bones are softer and more resistent to shocks anyway. And they should learn to hold on to the pole. So I see parents looking at me, disapproving with my attitude. And I won’t move for their little brats.
On the other side, we all know carebears. These people will always be on your side, they will listen to you and show empathy. They will not say anything when a french guy gets in front of them in the waiting line or when a client keeps changing his mind. And we like them, because we know we can go see our carebears when we have a problem, they will give us mental hugs and honestly I think we all need that from time to time. I too have this carebear side. I can’t say no to someone who asks me for help. I can’t resist even if it is counter productive for me probably because I am not a really smart guy so I just do what feels right instead of trying to be smart.
We all have some of these personalities inside us. I’m sure you do too. The danger is that we have a tendency to stay in the middle of the spectrum, which is “the insensitive zombie area” according to me. I know what I’m talking about. It’s a little comfortable place to be, I have to fight to not stay into this state of mind, because when I’m there it’s like time stops and nothing happens.
Be an asshole on purpose
Of course it’s important to show empathy and you have the whole self-help blogosphere to tell you to be a carebear and live your life based on love and passion and blah blah blah… We read and hear this but we have a misconception of what being good is. We end up staying in the zombie state of mind thinking we are good because basically we are not bad.
I have much more respect for assholes than for zombies because they assume their choices and also because they challenge me. And that sums up why I think we have to cultivate our asshole personalities and be assholes on purpose, because they challenge the norms. They are the one who will lead their ways and make things change. Because you can’t be a carebear all the time and even if you try really hard to, I’m sure somebody out there think you are an asshole. So we might as well show them why we are assholes for. I am not talking about being an asshole just because we can be but rather adopting an asshole state of mind to make decisions happen and stand up for our values.
Think about it… We all have assholes in our networks and we can’t get rid of them, right? We meet them and think about their attitude, how toxic they can be. If they were so wrong and bad it would be easy to dismiss them. But for some reasons we can’t because behind all the discomfort we feel, we know these people are useful.
Being a “good” person is more about making change happen. Carebears don’t do that, they compromise and make people happy, they don’t make difficult decisions. Only an asshole personality gives you the stubbornness that is required for it. And I’m grateful for all the assholes I met. The ones that told me to push a little more, that I was not so great, that I could do better. They don’t make us comfortable like carebears could. This is the kind of people I want to meet.
This is the kind of people the world needs.
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