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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shared Thoughts on Law 1

My son Alton & I are sharing thoughts on Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power.

Alton, I received your letter in which you wrote your take on Law 1.  You state that it means that when those in a higher position do something for us, we should not get the bighead and feel we don’t need them anymore—in short, we should not be ingrates.  After we get on our feet with help from those in power, we suddenly feel we no longer know the people who helped us.  We have short memories when it comes to honoring those that helped us when we were down and out and in need.  Getting the bighead, in your view, is an instance of outshining the master.  What you describe is a very real situation—surely even generous people react when they are faced with flagrant ingratitude.  Hardly anyone can blame them from reacting with the attitude “It’ll be a cold day in hell when I help you again since you show no appreciation.”  Why is appreciation so important?  I believe it is for the reason that often when we help people we are put out in some way.  A demand is made of our time, attention, or resources—all limited assets.  In other words, we have gone to some effort—effort that could have been directed towards other needs.  When people are ungrateful they seem to assume that they are the only fish in the pond—“there were no other needs but mine” seems to be the galling attitude.  In fact there were many other needs and those needs went begging when the requests of the ungrateful were met.  The Law “Never be an ingrate” is certainly a more important law than the one we have studied as Law 1—cynically flatter your boss by damping down your own abilities.