I am an opportunist. And I am not ashamed of it. Opportunism can be found in the dictionary as the taking of opportunities as and when they arise, regardless of planning or principle, and that is exactly what I do. I have been accused of mis-and abusing people, things and situations, but all I really do is taking opportunities.
Yes, I am manipulative, and yes, I am not far from a pathological liar when it comes to my personal relationships. That last thing is something I’m far less proud of, but it’s rather unavoidable in the type of relationships I keep up with.
But that is not what I wanted to speak about in this blog. The ideal in our society to live by is most likely altruism. Despite all realistic assessments of our world people still hang on to the idea that one should help others for no other reason than “being a good person”. Nothing wrong with that, really, but here I want to start a plea for opportunism.
Altruism is in essence just as based on fulfilling one’s own needs as opportunism, only opportunists are less haughty about it. Let’s face it, no human being does something because there is no good reason. Wether you do something for money, affection or spiritual fulfillment doesn’t matter; in the end it’s all personal gain you’re after.
Altruists look for the “good” in people; that is what I have been told. They help someone because they see something “good” in that person. But “good” is relative as a concept… To see something good in someone else requires you to have a certain standard of what is good and what not. And who are you to determine that?
I like to know why someone is acting in a certain way against me. I like to know what their behavior is based on. Call me mistrusting and paranoid; you’re not far from the truth with that. But the fact remains that I don’t like it when I don’t know why people treat me in a certain manner, no matter if this manner is good or bad for me. I can only guess that other people as well feel a little insecure and unprotected when dealing with others in such a seemingly random way.
Opportunism doesn’t need high standards. It makes use of an entirely different concept than the ethical “good” and “bad”. It’s main drive is “use”. Opportunists don’t look for the good in someone, they look for the useful. And the fun thing is, in a way people are just like books. About books Pliny the Elder used to say “no book is so bad but some use might be got out of it.” I believe in that statement, both concerning books and people. Opportunistic relationships are honest, at least they are to me. You deal with someone for a reason, and this someone deals with you for a reason as well. The state and hierarchy of your relationship is completely clear. It’s business-like. I can relate to that.
And before you mention it, yes, that leaves open the opportunity for others to “misuse” you as well. The only thing you need to do is be aware of that and stop considering it a bad thing. Is it misusing when someone deals with you simply for one or a few clear reasons? Those reasons don’t have to be bad for you!
Think of it as commensalism, a term form biology meaning one organism lives off another, without necessarily causing that other organism any harm.
All in all, I think altruists are courageous. But I’m a bit of a control freak, so I rather stick to the business approach of opportunism.