“Do not ask others to suffer through something that you would try to avoid. You avoid slavery, be careful that others are not your slaves. For if you endure to have a slave, you appear to be a slave first yourself. For vice has no community with virtue, nor freedom with slavery.” – Epictetus
We are all blessed with people in our lives that we can ask favors of; loved ones, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and others. Some of us are going to be fortunate enough to have employees or coworkers under us who might even feel obligated to perform tasks we request of them. And most of us will have heard that we should never ask anyone to perform a task we wouldn’t be willing to perform ourselves.
The same should be true of us in our personal relationships as well. We should be as willing to listen to other’s problems and struggles as we would want them to be. We should keep in mind when we request favors of others that there will be a time they may need the very same thing from us. If we would take steps to avoid the favor, we shouldn’t ask for it on our end.
On the other side of the same coin, we also need to be able to ask for and receive help when we need it. Sometimes we need to be able to receive help even if we don’t feel like we need it. Always being the helper and never the helped creates a similar divide that always asking and never giving creates. The next time someone offer us help, even if we think we don’t need it, we should accept and at the very least have a shared moment with a peer.
Because that’s how we form relationships. And relationships matter.
virtus fortis vocat