One oak gets the fruit that falls from another: It is each for himself at all times. Meanwhile, what were you doing? – The Lay of Harbard
I’ve been thinking of this poem and this verse in particular. I love the lightheartedness of the poem, the often humorous banter between Harbard (Odin) and Thor. But the above verse makes me think. I’ve seen various translations and have no idea which is the superior, but the meaning I draw from it is this: basically sometimes one person will benefit from the misfortune of another. Sometimes unintentionally, other times not. The each for himself line is pretty straightforward.
This verse holds some well needed wisdom for me. You see, I’ve spent the greater part of my life waiting patiently for other people to do right by me. Needless to say I’ve often been disappointed. I think the sooner one realized that most people do not have your best interest at heart the better off they’ll be. I’m not talking about those closest, or the strongest confidantes. I’m talking about all the other people you often cannot trust beyond a superficial level. Hell sometimes betrayal can even come from those closest to you; siblings or spouses, or those you have grown to trust. Too often in Judeo Christian cultures there’s the idea that by being constantly humble you’ll be rewarded, that life will be good to you. Not really. It’s dog eat dog. I’m not trashing the Golden Rule, or advising anyone not to behave honorably, however, good behavior and deeds come with a caveat. If someone constantly treats you poorly I don’t believe in turning the other cheek. One can only stand to be shit on so many times. Forgiveness can be a wonderful thing, but to merely forgive someone when no apology was ever given is beyond me. Coming out of an abusive marriage I would read so many times during my recovery that I should “learn to forgive” in order to heal. But how is it logical to forgive or show mercy to someone who never showed it to me, who still to this day believes the abuse was justified? If the individuals who wronged you truly seeks your pardon then so be it, forgive them. If, however they carry on business as usual then screw it.