Upbeat Cynicism

what do you mean i lost my mind?

Why “Benevolent Misanthropy”?

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Granted, it’s an amusing contradiction, and wonderfully evocative, rather like Dickens’s “rapacious benevolence” from Bleak House (and thanks, jk, for informing me of that one!), though with a somewhat opposite connotation.

It is also a wonderfully apt and accurate description of how I approach the world, for better or worse.

I like to be a nice guy. I just do. Not out of any sense of selflessness — I do it for myself, because I enjoy it. When I lived in Shanghai, any time I saw laowai (white foreigners ((No, that’s not racist, at least not on my part. It’s pretty much how the word is used.))) who appeared lost or confused, I always went up and asked “You folks need any help?” If they didn’t I moved on, and if they did, I pointed them in the right direction or walked with them where they needed to go (because Shanghai’s street layouts are exceedingly confusing in many, if not most, places). I almost never gave my name (and never my full name), and only a couple of times accepted an offer of free dinner or drinks. I was doing it just to do it.

On the other hand, people can be real shits, and they often gravitate toward nice people because nice people are easy marks. And even when they aren’t scamming you or abusing your generosity, they can just be real shits generally.

So it’s not unusual for me to fume and rant and rave over the general lack of intelligence of humanity, or their untrustworthiness, or worse, and then help someone out for no reason at all except to help out. (Though I might, possibly, sometimes mutter “stupid git” as he walks away.)

So I’m a misanthrope, but I’m a benevolent one.


Written by [IMH]

6 January 2007 at 7:16 am

Posted in Blogosphere

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  1. Down here in GZ, we are known as Gweilo’s…which essentially is ‘white ghost’. That’s what they call us and we refer to ourselves that way. Words are words…they aren’t racist. It’s how the words are used, that is racist. My staff call me a gweilo…and its just a term of endearment. If a cab driver gives me the brush-off followed by some expletives and gweilo tossed in…that’s personal.

    GZ Expat

    8 January 2007 at 4:02 am

  2. Sorry, I was brainwashed in University into thinking everything was racist. (Not really, but living in a U town for ten years did make me a bit twitchy about everyone else being a bit tetchy about the whole thing.) 🙂


    8 January 2007 at 6:00 am

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