Who comes FIRST seems to be controversial question regarding relationship priorities – but it should not be. Airline passengers are always told that in the event of loss of cabin pressure they should put on their own oxygen mask FIRST – before attempting to assist anyone else (for the simple reason that anyone needing assistance is also unlikely to be able to provide assistance).
So, should oneself be the highest priority? Not necessarily! Who comes FIRST – be it in an (aircraft) emergency, at work, in dating, during sex, within a family, and/or on a society level – should always be who is most and best able to protect and provide for and pleasure the other(s).
Putting ONESELF first, or who and/or what one may be care about most, is NOT always best.
Sometimes one’s own needs and desires and preferences puts others at risk – and can REDUCE one’s own (and everyone else’s) chances for health, happiness, prosperity, or success. Immature children should not be allowed to make decisions for their family or society. There are NO rights without responsibilities – including regarding the “welfare” of others – now and in the future.
Those seeking personal power or profit or pleasure are not “exempt” from impact on anyone else – especially in business or politics. Increases in influence and affluence inherently imply greater responsibility – including and often especially to those with less. Choices usually affect others.
There is a huge difference between not thinking less of oneself than thinking less about oneself.
Good leaders tend to make sure that others are taken care of – and often before themselves – NOT because they think of themselves as any less important or even less in need, but because they regard themselves as more able and depended upon to provide for the needs of others – especially those who follow them and for whom them are thus responsible for – as the leader.
There are many professions in which people routinely risk their lives for others – BUT most are told again and again that there is NO cost-benefit ratio regarding the number sacrificed for the number saved. Rescue personnel are usually instructed to ensure their OWN safety and survival as much as of others they MIGHT save – especially if it is likely to result in losing their own life.
Lifeguards are taught to “reach, throw, and row”, before they “go” swim to someone drowning.
In the military, mission accomplishment is considered a higher priority than individual or unit welfare – but people who jump in front of a bullet or a car, or on top of a grenade, or run into a burning building or collapsing structure or raging river may save the lives of others but risking theirs also reduce their own and others ability to assist anyone else – in the present or future.
During mass-casualty medical emergencies (and also during epidemics), triage (or the “sorting” by priority for treatment) of the ill and injured is based first and most on the chances of survival (with the resources and care available) than by severity and/or extent of what may be needed.
Those with immediate life-threatening conditions who have best chances of survival if they are provided for quickly – with the least extensive, expensive, and ongoing intervention required – come FIRST. Care for most others is delayed. And some, who under different conditions, might very well be saved and recover, are not treated at all – especially those expected to die anyway.
There is always some kind of hierarchy in emergency medical care – and everything else in life – including political, professional, and personal relationships – at individual, family, community, organization, group, and society level. An open airway is required to breath; without a beating heart, it does not matter if someone is not breathing or is bleeding or has any other problem.
Within any society, group, organization, community, family, or personal relationship, especially during conflict, in crisis, and/or when resources are scarce, the highest priority should always be to provide for the needs of those everyone else depends upon – for the protection and provision of (individual and group) needs and chances of survival, prosperity, preferences, and pleasures.
In a society, those who provide food, shelter, physical protection, guidance, and care should be regarded as “more equal” than others. This tends to include farmers and herders and hunters and gatherers and trappers and fishermen and soldiers and police and firefighters and doctors and nurses and designers and builders and maintainers of physical and social infrastructure.
In a business, it is NOT the customers – nor the owner(s) or any investors or shareholders – who should usually come first, but the employees or whoever actually does the work without which the business could not function and would not exist that matters most and should be taken care of first – so that they can provide products and services and profit for everyone else.
In a family, the PARENTS (as partners, providers, and protectors), should usually come FIRST before their children – until and unless it is the children who are caring for their parents (and siblings). Parents, especially mothers, who regard their children as their primary priority, tend to end up and remain single – even after their children are grown. The safety and survival of the next generation (and species itself) is obviously important, but not necessarily the proper order.
Families are usually considered the foundation of society. The parents – as (marriage) partners – are the foundation of the family – NOT the children. The (marriage) partnership relationship should also be the (family’s) primary and most important relationship to maintain and improve.
Children learn primarily by example. They need to observe and be reassured and understand that they have a place in the a world that existed before their birth (that could and would also continue without them) and that their position and preferences are NOT higher in hierarchy or priority to those who came before them – and not just in a family, birth order, or relationship.
Children should never be allowed to pit or play one parent (or any other adult) against another.
Children need to learn (by example) to consider, respect, accept, appreciate, and include others – especially with greater (or lesser) age, experience, ability, interest, and/or (earned) authority.
Politicians and others who aspire to inspire, influence, and lead others also need to constantly keep in mind what they (should have) learned as children and be reminded if/when they forget.
Even when not consciously aware of it, everyone has a hierarchy of who and what comes first.
Many people prioritize relationships by their locus of control – starting with themselves; their family, friends, and co-workers; people they meet or serve; their local community; organizations they belong to; their nation; humanity; and the world. Others put their religious/spiritual beliefs first – emphasizing a chosen mission or role as a servant to something greater than themselves.
Some people are more influenced by, affiliated, and identified with a political party or ideology; or social status; ethnicity; ancestry; nation; culture; sexual preference; or gender orientation.
© 2016, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.