How much should we consider the feelings and experiences of other lives as we go about living our own lives? It’s a difficult question, because it often becomes a balancing act. What pleases one person can be the same thing that angers another, and what makes you feel good, might be what upsets someone else. The easy answer would be to say, “Do what makes you happy” but as with most things that are easy, it doesn’t have long term lasting appeal. Because even what makes us happy, is subject to change, and what might make us happy in the moment, could only upset us later.

When considering all these things, consideration itself may become so stressful that simply the act of considering can become inconsiderate to our own well being. Since we don’t have the knowledge of G-d, it does in some ways become a fool’s errand to try to consider the feelings of all lives in the living of our own lives, but that does not mean that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. Consideration is a powerful tool, and we can with some accuracy consider how our actions influence and affect those within our sphere of influence.

So what is our sphere of influence? It can be very different, and difficult to determine, depending upon who you are and how big your reach is (being an artist or creative in many ways destroys the concept entirely), but typically, one can say with certainty that a person’s sphere of influence includes their friends, their family, their neighbors, their coworkers, the animals in their backyard, and any/all of the lives that are involved in their own financial transactions. These are lives that we absolutely know we influence, with no ambiguity about the question. If you’re rude to your cashier, that could make them be rude to the next person they serve, and then that person could go be rude to another, and so on and so forth up until the point that someone gets so offended by the rudeness that they construct a bomb and blow up fifty people in that exact same supermarket where you gave the cashier the stink eye. These are real risks that should be considered, and in my opinion means that rudeness is not something we should instigate. Sometimes it’s necessary, but we shouldn’t be the ones to make it necessary, because it will always have ramifications.

Anything aggressive, anything outwardly forceful, will push forth the pendulum of cause and effect, this is one of the reasons that having manners and being polite is a way to reduce our own stress, as by being decent to others, we no longer have to constantly consider whether or not we may have prompted that neighbor of ours to beat his wife to death with a hammer, as it’s doubtful that saying, “Nice morning, isn’t it?” was the reason he did that, then again, could that have prompted it? Was telling our neighbor to have a nice morning what caused him to murder his wife? Perhaps he views that as having a nice morning…

Only G-d knows.

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