Unbounded Cynicism and (Almost) Despair
post # 55 — April 23, 2006 — a Careers post
I hesitate to pass this on for a variety of obvious reasons. However, here goes.
On my website, by each piece of content, I invite visitors to rate (or evaluate) that item and provide feedback. The evaluation scale I offer is “1 to 5″ with 5 being a top score.
Giving my article Are Law Firms Manageable? an evaluation of 0 (yes, that’s zero) an anonymous correspondent writes:
Law firms don’t work for a simple reason. All day long, lawyers advise clients how to screw everyone. In the firm setting they advise CEOs how to screw everyone, the CFO how to screw trade creditors, etc., etc., I could go on.
Lawyers are the ONLY really honest people when it comes to firm management. They know not to trust.
All the other firms where people are trusting someone – sooner or later, the trusting ones will be screwed.
It’s hard to know how to react to this, beyond pointing out that critiquing things anonymously isn’t the basis for an intelligent dialogue. Do note something interesting – the author is saying that lawyers learn to not trust because everyone they serve wants to screw someone and then hires the lawyers to do it. The clients (the business world) are not being portrayed in a good light here. This is not just lawyer-bashing, this is businesspeople-bashing.
I’m a professional skeptic, but the sheer cynicism expressed here is deeply depressing.
Yes, I know that we’re all sinners, and that it’s naive to believe that other people will always do the right thing, but is it REALLY a practical posture to act on the principle that “sooner or later the trusting ones will be screwed.”
Surely there will be a Pygmalion effect – if people see I always treat their motives with suspicion, won’t they respond in kind? Won’t I get less from the world by taking that position?
What’s the evidence, for or against the cynical versus the hopeful view of the world?
What rule do you live by?
What rules do you teach your children to live by?