The year of the good guys

It might be the Year of the Monkey for the Chinese, but I reckon this is the Year of the Good Guys. What does that mean? For years, the good guys– those who have been doing business quietly, honestly and with integrity – have despaired seeing others, whose business practises leave much to be desired, reaping considerable material rewards. Now it’s payback time and both the good guys and the others are getting what they deserve, the return on what they have been giving out for so long.

I went to my bookshelves to look for more inspiration – and I found Living a Life that matters by Harold S Kushner, Rabbi Laureate of Temple Israel in Natik, Massachusets, USA. I started reading and making notes – really, I could have quoted him chapter and verse. As so often happens, I was led to just the right book at just the right time. He expresses perfectly what I think about the ‘good guys’ and the changes that I feel we are going through, individually and collectively, right now.

Each one of us has a dilemma. Part of us wants to be rich, powerful, famous, successful. The other part wants to be a good person and to know that we matter. The central theme of Kushner’s book is how to reconcile these two apparently opposing desires within us – can we be both good and successful?

Most of us live in two very different worlds. There is the one in which we eat and work and pay bills and another, where we are in touch with our spiritual – some would say real – selves.

In the first world, success is measured by material things – a luxury house, the latest car, a big office. Those who win, by whatever means, are praised, while others are scorned for their weakness: bigger and better are the bywords. In the second world, success is measured by giving and sharing. Those who win do so by helping someone and giving him a sense of self-worth, not by exploiting his weakness and humiliating him.

In the first world, the biggest sin is letting someone getting the better of you, losing the deal, and the worst punishment is the shame of other people knowing you have failed. In the second world, the worst sin is deliberately hurting someone, and the worst punishment is self-guilt, knowing you could have done better. Beauty in this second world is measured by warmth and generosity of spirit, rather than wealth, glamour and designer labels.

The vast majority of us have to live in both worlds and the challenge is to balance them: how to earn a living and survive in this material world without losing touch with the compassion inside? Too much of the first world and we become selfish and uncaring. Too much of the second world and we become doormats, doing everything for everyone else and ignoring our own needs. Is it possible to be good and successful?

However laudable our intentions, we often find ourselves compromised, backed into uncomfortable corners where we do something we don’t want to do, “because I had to, I had no choice”. Politicians duck and dive to maintain votes and popularity. Salesmen are over-enthusiastic about their products, or perhaps forget to mention a few important little details.

The key to the choices we make is, of course, our conscience. For some it is a little voice inside, for others a physical sensation. When we do what we know deep down is right, there is a sense of calm, some say a sense of elation. When we go against that, for whatever reason, we feel uncomfortable at a deep level – some people even experience physical pains. Kushner cites several examples of the ‘good guy’, or the one who sticks to his beliefs, winning in the end, and various other authors refer to what can be called Karma, getting back what you give out. I’m sure you have your own personal experiences of this – it seems that the payback time, for both good and bad, is getting shorter. You no longer have to wait years, or perhaps a lifetime – nowadays you get your just desserts (both good and bad) often within weeks or months!

Each of us does make a difference, in our own unique way. Mother Teresa said, “few of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love.” If you are uncomfortable with the word ‘love’ there, try integrity, honesty or respect – which brings us right back to the good guys. Those who have been honest with clientsabout the houses, cars or antiques they are buying;who stay out of the negative, destructive gossip circles and who help those who need it quietly, without fuss.

Is it possible to be good and successful? Yes, I believe it is. It doesn’t mean being weak or a doormat: on the contary, you have to be quite tough to resist the temptation of a quick buck or a big deal at someone else’s expense. But it’s worth it, and I think payback time has arrived. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you lived – that is to have succeeded.”

Flamenco for the Legion

A few weeks ago around 35 people enjoyed a great evening at the Atlantic Paradise restaurant – dinner and an excellent Flamenco show. “We really ought to do this again, Judy,” said Rui the restaurant manager, “how about Thursday April 1?” As that is the day before my birthday, we didn’t need any more excuses! I promised to plead with people I knew for some raffle prizes, and the profits of the raffle will go to the Royal British Legion, a charity that does enormous amounts of good work behind the scenes.

This is not a Mix & Mingle event, but it is an opportunity to have a nice social evening, to meet some new people and to enjoy the top-quality singing, guitar playing and dancing of the El Camiño Flamenco group. So please come along and enjoy the party atmosphere – both Rui the restaurant manager and the Flamenco group have promised something special for the evening – and help a very good cause at the same time. For 25 euros you will have a four-course dinner with water, wine and coffee, and the entertainment – and you could win a great raffle prize as well!

Please make your reservations at the Atlantic Paradise Restaurant (next to Atlantic Park water park, west of Quatro Estradas on the EN125) on 289 356 363, or to me on 966 108 605.