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Moral Critique of Law #10: The 48 Laws of Power

Updated on January 25, 2014

I read the book The 48 Laws of Power out of a curiosity and a hunger for something greater for myself. What I found was a book that could be seen as ruthless and manipulative in it's principles. I have decided to write a series of critiques of each of the laws. I will discuss the good and the bad of the law as well as a key that I've found to upholding the law without losing your morality.

Now, I will discuss Law #10.

Law #10. Infection: Avoid the unhappy and unlucky.

"You can die from someone else's misery - emotional states are as infectious as diseases. You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are only precipitating your own disaster. The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you. Associate with the happy and fortunate instead."

-Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

The Good

There are people in all of our lives who are constantly miserable. They always need help. They beg for your time and your resources when your mind should be occupied by more productive things. This can distract you from what is important. Therefore, it is good to keep a professional distance from such people.

Also, sometimes it's good to keep a professional distance for that person's sake as well. You do not want to be an enabler. Sometimes what a person with chronic problems gets into a spiral of self pity and creating more problems for themselves, what they truly need is some time for self reflection and not somebody to comiserate with them. Comiseration can lead to the person feeling validated for their miserable situation. If can also lead to them becoming dependent on you. They may enjoy the sympathy and the pity party and their condition may become all the more chronic.

The Bad

If someone is in dire straights you should help them. Ignoring people who need help does not serve humanity.

Furthermore, some people are just going through a rough spell. They are finding life difficult at the moment and may just be going through a phase. Maybe they lost their job and are struggling to get back on their feet. Abandoning them at that moment could spell doom for them even though they are working very hard to get out of trouble.

Additionally, ignoring such a person could ruin your relationship with the. Suppose they were to get out of that situation and become a success. Because you did not help them, ignored them, or judged them, they will see you as an enemy and may either seek revenge or just not let you back into their circle of friends.

The Key

This law can be tricky. How do you uphold it without "going to hell"? Basically, you must be able to distinguish between an infectious problem magnet and someone who has just incidentally gotten themselves into a little bit of hot water.

Someone who has just gotten themselves into a rough spot for the first time is not a problem magnet. Someone who was born with an unfortunate situation is not a problem magnet. These people need opportunities. If once given an opportunity, they still are not able to help themselves, perhaps you should leave well enough alone.

Do what you can and leave the rest up to the person. But do only what is within your power. If you are good at giving advice, give advice. If you have a lot of money, maybe you can buy the person something useful. If you have access to resources, provide some for the person. However, don't get into a cycle of bailing them out each and every time they come to you. Also, make them earn their keep. Often times, people appreciate what they work for more than what they are given.

Although, you shouldn't ignore those who need your help, don't get sucked into the whirlwind of a chronic drama creator.

Have you read The 48 Laws of Power? What do you think of Law #10?

You can probably get this book on for less than $15 or bid on it on eBay, but read it with a compassionate heart and watch the Laws of Power work magic in your business, relationship and life! Then, join the conversation in the comment box below!


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