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The Long-Term Question

Updated: Feb 25

A cat resting on a bed

Just a few moments ago, I was very mad at my cat for breaking a few of my coffee cups by mistake. He really likes hanging out in my kitchen sink. Then, I looked at the broken cups, which sure are replaceable, and looked at my cat, who was afraid of my anger at him.

It was then when I asked myself, what is better: cups that I can replace with a bit of cash, including those who have yet to be crushed, or Maimon, my cat, who is just 11 months old, and is basically my only intimate companion in my self-imposed hermitage in the Israeli countryside, who provides me someone I can hug and kiss as long as he likes it (and he sure does).

Which of those do you think is better: easily-replaceable tools or a loving, loyal pet? Of course, the latter is the very likely answer, and yet, in the heat of the moment, where we are caught up off guard, we support the former, and are angry at the clueless latter.

That is because the temporary emotion roots us against the long-term benefit, for they are responsible for the emotion to come up in the first place. They can make us forget, at least for a few moments, how much we actually love the latter, as we are angry or furious at them, for taking away from us things whose loss is not that bad overall.

Furthermore, should a broken object harm—or even kill—the one who caused damage to it, AKA, if the two bodies were switched in their role, surely our distress will be much more severe. It just goes to show you that there are things and beings whose worth to us are clear in general, but not always, sadly.

If you have a kid, a pet, or a very disabled individual whom you take care of, and they broke something or a few things you really liked or needed, in the heat of the moment, try and remember whose importance is the most dominant overall.

That is because, even if your broken property could've remained forever (theoretically), your dearest living beings do not, as they will either die before you or after you, along with their memory of what kind of a caregiver, pet owner, or parent you've been to them. They can't last as much as an inanimate object can, so they have even more of a reason to be appreciated over broken property.

When it comes to children, a very important notion you should consider as a parent is how do they view you in relation to them, if they've done something that caused you to be angry at them. Even if they are not children, but pets, you should find a way to make them feel that despite what they have done, you still love them whether you are a pet owner or a parent. Are a few broken coffee cups worth your anger, when such anger could have a significantly negative affect on the one/s who caused it by no ill-will

That is what can be called the Long-Term Question: what is better to prefer in order to have and preserve, with the least degree of loss, even if there will be loss nonetheless. In my case, the cups won't fix themselves, and have been thrown to the trash can anyways; nothing can redeem them, but what can be obviously maintained is my relationship with my dear cat whom I adopted last year when he was but a tiny kitten who could sleep on my shoulder.

Therefore, whether something negative has occurred, like your kid drawing on your apartment's wall, or your dog mistaking a book for a chew toy, if you really love them, you still need to remind them somehow that despite the damage they have done, you still hold them dear to your heart, even if they did something that made you angry at them. You should forgive them.

Philosophically, we can say that compassion is indeed the imperative component to any genuine, loving relationship: The ability to still recognize and show love to those who are bound to you and/or vice versa. Even if the object that was destroyed was very dear to you, like something that was passed down from generations, we should still remind ourselves that it is better to lose that specific object, than lose that object along with the love that once has been between two or more people or pets.

Likewise, the Long-Term Question can be used in any other field in life, because we can learn from it that most often than not, it is the benefit of the long-term that matters more than a loss that has short-term consequences; consequences that can be overcome easily than the wounds of a broken heart.

So do not let your feelings of being hurt or annoyed, ruin the relationships you're trying to build with others. Humans or otherwise. Take a look at the big picture and do not let it be ruined by its smaller details.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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