His Royal Highness and I are very different people and it is precisely for that reason our mental exchanges are so stimulating. Here’s what he taught me:
1) The poor are not necessarily bad. I argued criminals were typically poor because hunger and deprivation can drive a person to dispense with their morals. He countered by saying that his uncle and aunt are poor but the most morally upright people he knows.
2) Those most likely to come to your aid may be racially different to you. Growing up in racially-sensitive Malaysia, where everyone has friends who are ethnically different but still tends to trust most those from within their own ethnic group, I contended that our closest allies are of a similar racial profile. After all, isn’t it in familiarity that empathy grows? He countered by citing numerous examples of when racially different people were more helpful than those from our ethnic group.
3) Being smart is no guarantee of success. While some might think it insensitive, he points to yours truly as a shining example of being very smart but utterly unsuccessful. I like to remind him that as a support person, my success is actually his, but it is true, on my own and of my self, I am unsuccessful.
4) Persistance pays. He’s had many setbacks in his career. A lesser person would have said it’s too hard and walked away. Instead, he’s borne the indignity of multiple failures with fortitude and emerged victorious.
5) How to be the bigger person. He’d rather lose an argument than lose a relationship. As a result of letting others get away with their thoughts and actions – some erroneous – his relationships are a lot more enduring than mine.
6) To give more than you get. It’s a very privileged person who gets to help another out as not everyone is in the position to do so. However, you have to make a distinction between someone who genuinely needs help and one who just wants to piggyback on whatever you’re doing because there are many users out there.
7) To be proud of being different to everyone else. Like me, His Royal Highness has never been part of a herd. However, while I’ve constantly felt out of joint with society for marching to my beat, he takes immense pride in marching to his.
8) To filter my thoughts before speaking. Most who know me well would concur that I have somewhat confronting views. What I now realise is that not all of those views need be shared with everyone else. The socially acceptable ones I air on this blog, the more contentious ones, I keep to myself.
9) Doing nothing can do a lot for you. I often like rushing off to activities on weekends. He likes to sit around and just take it easy. I tried doing it his way last weekend and found myself more refreshed and looking forward to the week ahead.
10) The other is not the enemy. In fact, the other is probably a friend, but when you argue, that’s the last thing you remember. Learning to be less defensive helps you to hear the other person out and embrace life without turning everything into a battle.