Friday, February 03, 2006

When I was six years old, I had a life-changing revelation. It came to me, in a flash of understanding, that I was just like everyone else. Or everyone else was just like me. Whatever.

This is a great turning point for a six year old. To know that other people have the same kind of feelings, happiness, sadness, puzzlement. That other people feel pain and pleasure.

It changed the way I dealt with other people, which is where the life-changing part came in. Essentially I began trying to treat people the way I wanted to be treated myself.

But as the years marched on, I've had to question that revelation. Because it seems that as I grow older, I become less and less like other people. Or that other people become less and less like me.

I wouldn't dream of cheating a business colleague out of their earnings on a job, yet they seem to think this is a fair practice that can be justified by their own lack of money. (Caused, be it said, by gambling away their entire bank balance.)

If I say I will do something at a particular price, then that's the price. I don't up it without warning, out of contract, or bring in other people or contractors to help out at extra charge.

If I accept an invitation to your home, I try to arrive at the appointed hour and phone if there are transport problems. I don't just not pitch because something better came up.

I'm not going to push my way through to the front of the queue so that I can get on the bus before you, even though you've been waiting so much longer than me. Or let you stand even though I can see you are old, and weary and weak.

When I began composing this blog in my head several days ago, I was going to speak about much bigger differences. Like how I wouldn't strap bombs to my body and blow up a crowd of people celebrating a wedding, for example.

I was going to continue to wonder at how unlike other people I am becoming.

And then I had another revelation.

I am still exactly like other people, and they are still exactly like me. Certainly in terms of emotions and feelings, though possibly not in terms of motivation.

The difference is that the majority of them have never had that realisation. And so they continue to behave as though they are the only person in the world that matters.

In short, emotionally, they've never turned six.