This book was first published (in English) on January 16, 2018 - since then more than two million people have bought it.
Fans of Harari’s books “A Brief History of Humanity” and “A Brief History of the Future” will surely like the “12 Rules”. As they say in the publishing house, “12 rules of life” are 12 simple truths, wise laws of existence that destroy stereotypes and ennoble the mind and spirit of the reader. Among these rules, there are such: “Before criticizing the world, restore order at home,” “Strive for what is full of meaning (and not for what is beneficial),” “Speak more accurately,” “Tell the truth.”
With the permission of the publisher, we publish an excerpt from the third rule - "Make friends with people who wish you the best.
Saving the damned
People choose friends who are not good for them, and for other reasons. Sometimes this happens because they want to save someone. This is more typical of young people, although the impulse persists among the more adult audience, which is too inclined to compromise or remains naive and voluntarily blind. You may object: “It is right to see the best in people. The greatest virtue is the desire to help.
” But not everyone who fails is a victim, and not everyone who is at the bottom wants to rise, although many want, and many succeed. Nevertheless, people often accept or even intensify their suffering, as well as the sufferings of others, if they can present them as evidence of universal injustice. There is no shortage of oppressors among the oppressed, even if, given their low position, many of them are just parodies of tyrants. This is the most obvious choice at a particular moment, although in the long run it is a real hell.
Imagine a person who has bad things to do.
He needs help. He may even want help. But it’s not so easy to distinguish the one who really wants help and needs it from the one who just uses the one who wants to help. It is difficult to draw the border even for those who want help, need it, and at the same time, it may exploit the helper. If a person tries to stand on his feet and suffers a failure, and then receives forgiveness, then again tries to stand on his feet and again suffers a failure, and again receives forgiveness, it is too likely that he wants everyone to believe in the sincerity of his attempts.
If it’s not just naivety, trying to save someone is often the result of vanity and narcissism. Something similar is described in detail by the incomparable Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky in his classic work Notes from the Underground, which begins with famous lines: "I am a sick man ... I am an evil man.
Unattractive man. I think my liver hurts." This is a recognition of a temporary guest in a world of chaos and despair - a guest of a miserable and arrogant. He ruthlessly analyzes himself, but in this way pays only for hundreds of sins, and on his account there are a thousand of them. Then, imagining that he had redeemed them, this character commits the worst of his many misconducts.
He offers help to a truly unhappy person, Lisa, a woman who has embarked on the desperate path of prostitution, as he was in the 19th century. He invites her to himself, promising to return her to the true path. While he is waiting for her to come, his fantasies are becoming more messianic:
Passed, however, a day, two, three, she did not come, and I began to calm down. I was especially encouraged and walked after nine hours, sometimes I even started dreaming and quite sweetly: “For example, I save Lisa by the fact that she comes to me, and I tell her ..
. I develop, educate her. I finally notice that she loves me, passionately loves. I pretend I don’t understand (I don’t know, however, why I pretend to be; for beauty, probably). Finally, she, all embarrassed, beautiful, trembling and sobbing, rushes to my feet and says that I’m her savior and that she loves me more than anything.
Nothing other than narcissism nourishes a person from the underground in such fantasies. He destroys Lisa himself. The salvation that he offers her requires much greater obligations and much greater maturity than a person from the underground wants or is able to provide. He simply does not have for this character, he quickly understands this and quickly substantiates. Lisa eventually comes to his wretched apartment, desperately hoping to find a way out, putting everything that she has on this visit.
She tells a man from the underground that she wants to leave her present life. And what is his answer?
"Why did you come to me, tell me, please?" I began, panting and not even thinking about the logical order in my words. I wanted to express everything at once , in one gulp; I didn’t even care where to start. "Why did you come? Answer! Answer!" I cried out, barely remembering myself. "I will tell you, mother, why did you come.
You came because I then sent you miserable words He’s spoken. Well, you’ve gotten angry and again you felt like “pitiful words.” So know, know that I laughed at you then. And now I’m laughing. I! Before I was offended at dinner by those who came before me, I came to you in order to beat one of them, an officer, but I couldn’t, I didn’t find it; I had to take out my insult take it, you turned up, I poured evil over you and laughed at me, they humiliate me, so I wanted to humiliate me, they ruined me in a rag, so I wanted to show the power .
.. That's what happened, but you already thought that I would save you on purpose then came, huh? Did you think that? Did you think that? "I knew that she might be confused and would not understand the details; but I also knew that she would understand the essence very well. It happened. She turned pale, like a scarf, wanted to say something, her lips they twisted painfully, but as if they had hooked her with an ax and dropped into a chair, and all the while later she listened to me, mouth open, eyes open and trembling with terrible fear.
The cynicism, cynicism of my words crushed her ...
Inflated self-esteem, indifference and the apparent malicious intent of a person from the underground destroy the last Lizins of hope. He understands this perfectly.
Even worse: something in him was exactly what he was striving for. And he knows that too. But the villain, in despair from his own crime, did not become a hero. There must be something positive in the hero, the absence of evil alone is not enough.
You may object that Christ himself was friendly with publicans and prostitutes.
How dare I slander those who are trying to help? But Christ was an archetypal perfect man. And you are you. How do you know that your attempts to push another upstairs will not drop him or you yourself even further down? Imagine a person managing an exceptional team of workers, each of whom is diligently striving for a common goal. Imagine that they work in the sweat of their faces, work brilliantly, come to work creatively, that they have one for all and all for one. However, the manager is also responsible for the problem worker, whose business is going badly and who is working separately.
In a burst of inspiration, out of well-meaning, the manager moves the problem worker to the center of his stellar team, hoping that this will benefit the unfortunate one. What happens next? In psychological literature there is a consensus on this subject. Is the newcomer, having made so many mistakes, immediately pulls himself up and spreads his wings? Not. Instead, the entire team begins to work worse. The newbie remains cynical, annoyed and neurotic.
He is complaining. He dodges work. He misses important meetings. Due to his poor quality work, deadlines are broken, others are forced to redo everything for him. However, he is still paid the same amount as his teammates.
The hard workers surrounding him feel cheated. “And why am I trying my best to finish this project?” Each of them thinks. “The new one is not ready to sweat.”
The same thing happens when mentors place a delinquent teenager over relatively civilized peers. Offenses are growing, stability is not.
Getting down is much easier than getting up.
Perhaps you are saving the other because you are a strong, generous, collected person who wants to do the right thing. But it is also possible, and even more likely, that you simply want to draw attention to your inexhaustible reserves of compassion and goodwill. Or you save another because you want to convince yourself that the strength of your character is not just a side effect of your luck and the favorable circumstances of your birth. Or you do it because it’s easier to look virtuous next to a person completely irresponsible.
To begin with, assume the probability that you are doing what is easiest, and not what is most difficult. For example, against the background of your fierce alcoholism, my drinking habit seems a trifle. Or my long, serious speeches about your failed marriage convince us both that you are doing everything possible and that I am helping you with all my strength. Sounds like an effort. It looks like progress.
But a real improvement would require both of us much more.
Are you sure that the person crying out for help has not decided to accept his senseless and harmful sufferings a thousand times simply because it is easier than taking on real responsibility? Do you encourage error? Could your contempt turn out to be more useful than your pity?
Or maybe you don’t have a plan to save anyone. You associate yourself with people who are bad for you, not because someone is better off from it, but because it is easier. You know that. Your friends know this.
You are all bound by a secret treaty that leads to nihilism, failure, stupid suffering. You all decided to sacrifice your future for the present. You are not discussing this. You are not going to and do not say: “Let's choose the simplest way. Let's live this moment, no matter what it brings.
And let's agree not to talk about it in the future. It will be easier for us to forget what we are doing.” You don’t say anything like that. But you all know what really happens.
Before helping someone, you must find out why this person is in trouble.
You should not simply believe that he or she is a noble victim of unfair circumstances and exploitation. This is the most incredible explanation, not the most likely. In my experience, clinical and not only, I can say: it is never so simple. Moreover, if you buy into the story that everything terrible just happened on its own, without the personal responsibility of the victim, you accordingly deny the capacity of this person in the past, and implicitly in the present and in the future. Thus, you are depriving him or her of any influence.
It is much more likely that this person simply decided to refuse to move forward, because it is difficult. Perhaps you would have made the same erroneous decision in the same situation. Maybe you think this is too harsh. And maybe you're right. This is a little too much.
But think: failure is easy to understand. No explanation is required for him. Similarly, fear, hatred, addiction, illegibility in relationships, betrayal and deceit do not need explanations. Neither the existence of vice nor its forgiveness require explanation either. The vice is simple.
With failure too. It’s easier not to shoulder the burden. It’s easier not to think, not to do and not to worry. It’s easier to put aside what you can do today and exchange the coming months and years for today's cheap pleasures. As the notorious dad from the Simpsons family said before knocking over a can of mayonnaise and drinking it with vodka: “This is a problem for the future Homer.
Damn, I don’t envy this guy!”