ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other

I heard a story the other day that made me sad. It’s not my story to tell so I won’t give details, but in summary, the guy wanted to buy something and was offered it at a price so low that it could have hurt the naive former owner (FO). He told the FO that he should be charging more, and left his card so the FO could call when he’d thought it over.

The wife of the guy telling the story was mad at him for not buying the thing at the low price, and that’s the part that makes me sad.

There’s a happy ending; FO talked to his wife and called the guy back offering to sell at the price he’d originally quoted. Their children were dead so they had no one to pass the thing on to, and they’d make some money over what they’d originally paid years ago, so they decided they’d rather sell to an honest man than maximize their profit.

It’s a nice story, overall, but I can’t get past the wife’s complaint. It seems to me that if marriage is for anything at all, it’s for supporting each other. Some of that is sharing the chores of running a life and raising children, if you have them; some of it is holding each other up during hard times and cheering each other on during good ones. But surely some of it should be about supporting each other to become better.

Shouldn’t it?

Also, this purchase was not a thing the family really needed. You might have more responsibility to your family than to strangers when all else is equal, but screwing over someone else to get your family a luxury is what I think of as the “I Got Mine” mentality, and I think it’s one of our biggest failings as a society.

Years ago, there was a Hagar the Horrible Sunday comic strip, in which they portrayed the family’s motto as “I Got Mine!” and showed various images of how happy each family member was with their particular “mine” people/stuff. Ever since then I have thought of the sort of thinking you describe as the “I Got Mine” school of thought, and I think it’s downright evil:

  • My family came over here as refugees, but no one else should come – my family wanted to work and make a better life for ourselves and just needed a little help, whereas all these new people just want to suck us all dry.
  • I had my abortion for the right reasons, but all these other women shouldn’t be allowed that option because they just want sex without consequences.
  • I need freedom to celebrate my own religion because everyone hates us, but I want to ban these other religions because they’re full of violent people and anyway they’re wrong.

(Note: I copied my explanation of the “I Got Mine” mentality, and those three examples, from a Ravelry post I wrote on November 2 – before the attacks in Paris.)

I Got Mine is not my family motto, and I hope my own spouse would hold me to a higher standard – or at the very least, help me hold myself to it.

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