The word “ruthless” conjures for most people the image of someone who’s evil, brutal, and sadistic.
It’s real meaning, is someone who acts without any pity or compassion for someone’s misery. They are ruth-less.
Another way to see being “ruthless” is someone who acts without taking other people’s opinions and inconveniences into account.
The lines between ruthless, selfish, and egoistic get more and more blurred the more you think about it.
Does it take ruthlessness to win a world championship, when it means denying everyone else who showed up to the tournament, regardless of how much they and their families sacrificed for the opportunity?
Does it take ruthlessness to get selected for a job that only has one opening, when it means denying all other applicants who could have made something of their lives with the job you stole from them?
Does it take ruthlessness to go into business and prevail against a competitor — through better products and marketing — even though their competitor may have some wonderful employees with pregnant spouses whose livelihood depends on their consistent employment?
Does it take ruthlessness to take the life of another plant or animal, for the purpose of one’s own nourishment?
The very act of self-assertion – from smallest to largest — is ruthless.
The least ruthless man in the world probably cannot achieve anything in his life, out of fear that he may inconvenience someone else. He would carry a soul-crushing load of self-doubt to every aspect of his existence, living a pitiful life devoid of hopes or dreams. And in living that way, he is ruthless towards himself.
As we live in a society of other people, our ruthlessness is a reflection of how dependent we feel on others’ opinions for our happiness.
Perhaps “compassion” is, in the end, a front for co-dependence. Compassion for others is, in some ways, our way of saying, “I need to be more ruthful, because it furthers my agenda — being compassionate towards others is the way to be compassionate towards myself.” How much compassion are we inherently born with? Is it an evolutionary trait, or is it something that’s instilled into us? I’m inclined to think it is a bit of the former, but mostly the latter.
I believe that in general, as you become more compassionate towards others, it directly means being compassionate towards yourself. But there is an intersection, a tipping point, where your compassion towards others supersedes compassion towards yourself.
The key to healthy coexistence – with oneself as well as others – is to never cross that intersection of compassion.
Depending on the world you live in, and its unwritten social rules, that intersection can move greatly. In some societies, you can get away with a lot more ruthlessness.
Wow, this post is going longer than I thought… best to clip it here. じゃな！