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Robin Hood & The Green-Eyed Monster October 20, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, People, Spirit & Ego.

Have you ever reached out to help someone, perhaps even putting yourself in the line of fire, and been spurned as a result?

Have you ever offered a hand to someone in need, and had them bite the hand you extended in return for your efforts?

Have you ever watched in amazement as people turn their backs on those to whom they owe a debt of gratitude?

As we watched Robin Hood (Russell Crowe), we observed what jealousy, envy, and pride do to those who feed ego at the expense of spirit. 

In the 2010 movie, King John lies to his subjects to get them to band together to conquer the French invading Britain.  In return for their loyalty and support in defeating the French, King John reneges on his agreement and declares Robin Longstride to be an enemy of the realm ~ Robin of the Hood or Robin Hood.  

Why would King John repay loyalty and support with treachery?  Because, like many in power, the King listened to his ego, rather than his heart, when viewing Robin’s actions:

King John perceives the French surrendering to Robin, rather than to himself, as a major threat to his power. In the final scenes, King John reneges on his word to sign the Charter of the Forest, burns it, and declares Robin to be an outlaw.

In response to this, Robin moves to Sherwood Forest with Lady Marian and his friends to form what will become the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest.  Robin Hood.

The legend of Robin Hood, long  shrouded in the mists of Sherwood Forest, may be more fiction than fact.  No matter.  We all have met a King John (or two) in our lives, haven’t we?  Supervisors who  reap the benefit of our hard work, then “punish” us for our efforts, rather than expressing gratitude for our loyalty and support.

Rise and rise again . . . until the lambs become the lions.

The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader.  The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves. ~ J. Carla Nortcutt

* * * * *

For a continued discussion, see King John’s Not-So-Hidden Motivations


1. Cindy - October 20, 2010

I’m not going to comment, because I expect there is a part 2 to this post, something to do with regretting the absence of gratitude and feeling snubbed being the emotion of ego rather than spirit?
Am I getting this stuff right?

nrhatch - October 20, 2010

Actually, the movie (and King John in particular) reminded me of a supervisor I had once who did her best to “hide me under a rock” because she felt that my “light” dimmed hers.

She, like King John, shot herself in the foot to bolster her somewhat fragile ego. Instead of putting the good of the program as her primary and overriding concern, and encouraging those working for her to let their lights shine, she placed her own need for admiration above all else.

In the end, the program (and HER reputation) suffered because those who worked for her started to do JUST ENOUGH to please her without doing OUR BEST (and running the risk of incurring her wrath).

2. theonlycin - October 20, 2010

Ah … I understand, I’ve been in similar company myself.

nrhatch - October 20, 2010

I’ve added a quote to clarify why I believe King John went awry.

3. Paula - October 20, 2010

What has always amazed me are the people who so enjoy their work, that it matters not one iota who gets the credit for it. . .I’ve known a few of these remarkable people, and they are few and far between I expect.

nrhatch - October 20, 2010

We didn’t mind when she claimed credit for our work . . . it kept us from having to deal with the “spotlight.” We did care if she got “annoyed” with us when we did a stellar job and someone noticed.

4. Richard W Scott - October 20, 2010

OK, as I am wont to do, I’m about to make a rude noise. Bear with me.

The reason that most people (entities, companies, states, or countries) are so ugly about help is this: despite the need, despite even agreeing to take it, accepting help is a public sign of weakness, and egos, for the most part, just don’t care for that.

This is not to say that you won’t find individuals who a) are in need and willing to side-step egomania to accept help, and who might even do so without harboring a secret resentment, but while many say they’re “for it”, most, in their heart’s are “again’ it”.

Then there are persons, organizations… (see list above) who prey on aid-givers. They, b) are professional takers and live off others’ giving.

I know this sounds harsh, but look at the humanitarian things the US has done around the world. How often have couintries we have helped with food, medicines, and money shown no gratitude at all, or worse turned against us?

This is a tricky thing I’m saying. Most readers are, even as they see these words, thinking “he doesn’t mean me. I’m FINE with help”

I think it is ingrained. Especially to US citizens. Help means weakness, weakness means being a loser. So, in the end, ask yourself if you ever find yourself wincing when someone offers help.

Well, I TOLD you I would be making a rude noise.

nrhatch - October 20, 2010

I don’t think it was rude at all. I think you hit the nail on the head with a resounding THUD.

It’s one reason why I stopped providing free editing assistance on WEbook. Even when people asked for input and said they could take it . . . they resented even the slightest “criticism” of their precious words.

I have better things to do with my time these days than provide requested assistance and then get my hand slapped for doing as requested.

nrhatch - October 20, 2010

BTW: I’m inherently lazy so I almost never turn down an offer of assistance.

You want to cook me dinner, fix me a drink, set up the stereo, pick out the movie, drive me around, run errands for me . . . go for it!

I PROMISE to express my sincere gratitude in return. And I’ll gladly pay you . . . on Tuesday! 🙂

loreen lee - October 21, 2010

Couldn’t help but respond, and hopefully ‘add’ to this one. The philosophers I have most respected have always encouraged independence of thought and action. “Be indebted to no one”. That’s even Polonius I believe, in Hamlet. There is wisdom in this, I believe, for how often does that help that is offered come with ‘catches’, whether it be control, and something expected in return, which may even jeopardize one’s integrity or life-perspective. I think this has already been discussed once, in relation to what may come as unexpected consequences sometimes, in the receiving of gifts. I do believe, however, in being a ‘good’ gift giver. As usual this is a one-sided comment, as it leaves out the possibility of a ‘genuine’ reciprocity. Thus the need to study motivation, and the often ‘obtuse’ meanings within language, which McCumber calls poeticinteraction.

nrhatch - October 21, 2010

Thanks, LL

When we see underlying motivations in others, it helps us understand our own motivations in acting (or refraining for acting).

Once we know who we are, we know how to live.

loreen lee - October 21, 2010

But we don’t actually see the motivation in others. We are only going on our own experience. It is no longer contested that we cannot know the minds of others. We have no ‘private access’ as Wittgenstein as demonstrate. What we think of others, is primarily a result of our own perspective, and usually includes excuses, justifications, and magnifications of ourselves, in expectation that we our words actions and thoughts are acceptable to ourselves. We do not ‘know’ other minds. We only have hypothetical ‘beliefs’ about them. Motivations are part of the life-world, and may be mysterious even to the self whose motivations are under scrutiny.

nrhatch - October 21, 2010

Just because we cannot know “the mind” of another doesn’t mean that their motivation for acting the same way over and over and over again is hidden from view.

Sometimes motivations are hidden and we should not take the words of others at face value: https://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/wtf-watch-that-feedback/

Other times people’s motives are quite obvious ~ as King John’s were in Robin Hood. Sometimes people let their masks slip . . . and we see the machinations underneath: https://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/how-to-unmask-pretend-friends/

Often words shared in anger are quite honest in revealing what oft remains hidden.

loreen lee - October 21, 2010

Nope. I will disagree. We only think they are quite obvious. This can be hard to take. But it means that we are not as independent in thought, word, and action as we think we are. That is why Habermas has come up with the Theory of Communicative Action. However, the theory is a big hard sell, to my liking. But I do think we, each and every one of us, has to become more responsible for our own thoughts, and judgments, and realize that we do not KNOW. Then we would be closer to treating others as though they were recipients of the Divine and/or Spirit, and have some reverence for the mysterious within the life-world. As one analytic philosopher put it, we must practice the principle of charity when it comes to other people, which means giving the benefit of the doubt, that as far as the other person is concerned their actions, even if they APPEAR derogatory to our favor, are to some degree rational. We have at the moment, the conviction in progress of a Canadian Commander, who after committing pernicious crimes which culminated in murder and rape, confessed also that he did not understand why he acted the way that he did. There is quite a bit of controversy about it, because the Jeckyl and Hyde aspect can be frightening; that anyone we know might be capable of such perversion. I can only hope, though, that because he is such an intelligent person, that he will spend at least some of the next 25 years he is sure to spend incarcerated, thinking about the reasons why he did commit the crimes. If he could learn something about his own mind, it might through light for all of us, not only on the process of thought that sinks to such levels, but on how the human mind works generally. As Socrates says, Know Thyself, which is the most difficult task of all (next to knowing God of course, grin grin)

nrhatch - October 21, 2010

Okay. Let’s agree to disagree.

loreen lee - October 21, 2010

It’s a matter of language. That’s why philosophers work so hard to clarify terms. Would you consider a distinction between motivation and behavior. An understanding of a person’s Motivation would be based on Judgment, that is the feeling or emotional response to a situation. The Motivation is also in this area, and has to do with a person purpose, his why. Behavior however, is what we can observe, and is generally demarcated and observed through words and actions. Judgment, within the technical term does not apply here. We CAN KNOW what a person says and does. The thoughts and the heart, however, according to this demarcation of words, would be ‘invisible’ to us, (like God and Spirit) and would consequently be the result of our ‘beliefs’ rather than our knowledge. This can get more and more technical. The philosophers are still struggling for clarification too. So I’ll stop there. Yes, your beliefs are your own. But that is why I am interested in confining my observation to language utterances, and not the ‘personal’. That would be in order to avoid being judgmental. Judgments again, are the expression of emotion. What I would be dealing with in poetic praxis, and poeticinteraction. That is ‘How to distinguish a judgment from an observation’. Hope I am making sense to you. I would have no fear of submitting this as a philosophy essay, in any case. The best.

nrhatch - October 21, 2010

You’re right. It is a matter of semantics and I’ve attempted to clarify what I mean in King John’s Not-So-Hidden Motivations.


5. Richard W Scott - October 20, 2010

Oddly enough, I watched that film for the first time last night.

nrhatch - October 20, 2010

We watched most of it last night, and finished it at lunch today. Despite Sir John and the traitor to the crown, we enjoyed it quite a bit.

6. nancycurteman - October 20, 2010

I love the J. Carla Nortcutt quote. I would add that when a leader promotes self esteem in h/er followers, they tend to excel in their jobs benefitting everyone.

nrhatch - October 20, 2010

Exactly. Everyone wins when the leader’s ego steps aside and allows everyone to shine.

7. souldipper - October 20, 2010

Yay for J. Carla Nortcutt AND nancycurteman. That’s leadership. Anything else is a Me Party.

nrhatch - October 20, 2010


8. Joanne - October 20, 2010

“Rise and rise again… until the lambs become the lions…”

Yep, my “baaaaaa” is slowly becoming a roooooaaarr… I can relate to this post 😀

nrhatch - October 20, 2010

That quote came from the hilt of a sword in the movie … Never give up. Don’t let the bastards get you down.


9. Mstrongair - October 20, 2010

Great post and a very thought-provoking piece.

nrhatch - October 20, 2010

More and more when watching movies and TV shows, I focus on the underlying motivations for actions.

People fascinate me when they act in ways contrary to their own best interest.

10. thysleroux - October 21, 2010

“Have you ever offered a hand to someone in need, and had them bite the hand you extended in return for your efforts?”

Interesting, I have this ongoing internal conflict with someone from my past, one I used to call “friend” and I believe he somehow despised or envied me all that time….

I think we should teach these things to kids in kindergarten so that they can avoid a lifetime of trying to “please” people.

nrhatch - October 21, 2010

Your second paragraph hit home with me. I had a “friend” (like your friend?) who tried to superimpose her view of life on me.

Reading your comment made me realize that she both envied and despised my freedom of thought ~ my ability to act as I wished, rather than following the rest of the sheep.

When we are very young, we must look to others to guide our actions. We learn by watching others. We must “please” them. At some point, maybe as early as kindergarten, a SHIFT must occur so that we are acting more autonomously ~ more for internal recognition and approval than for external rewards from others.

When we compare ourselves with our previous selves, the need for jealousy diminishes. 🙂

11. andalibmarks - October 21, 2010

I work in a tough industry, I mean, the porno business is a rough market.

Just kidding!

Please, for the love of God, don’t take that seriously!

In my profession (as an accountant!) we all depend on each other. If someone is absent from work, the others are expected to pick up the slack.
We work hard and as department head, I take no shit from anybody.
I ride ’em hard and the results of all that riding is – if the office does great, we all do great.
I am not the only one who works hard so, how can I take the credit?
I’ve had a few King John’s in my life and let me just say, ‘You can slap a bull on the ass once and get away with it. Twice a you’re a dead man.’


nrhatch - October 21, 2010

Teams (in work and sports) often benefit from a “cooperative” model where members are encouraged to do their best, and team members bring their “A” game because they want the team to win and want to know they played their best.

But some team members aren’t self-motivated. They only perform at their peak if they are recognized and rewarded individually for their efforts (or fear retribution for slacking off).

Humans are a complex mix of traits, indeed.

Hope your birthday was GRAND!

12. Linda - October 21, 2010

I love the quote! And I will take all the help I can get.

nrhatch - October 21, 2010

Me too! Me too!

13. Greg Camp - October 21, 2010

We should recall that the line “green-eyed monster” comes from Shakespeare. In “Othello,” Iago tells his master to beware of jealousy, that green-eyed monster, when he’s working hard to create that very feeling in Othello.

This post is a fine argument to dispose of supervisors in general. If I may rework Shakespeare a bit, first let’s kill all the managers!

nrhatch - October 21, 2010

Ha ha! Good one. It’s nice to see archers aiming at something other than lawyers for a change!

A ship without a rudder will soon run ashore. We need managers, and lawyers, to keep us from drifting about aimlessly.

But the best managers always encourage those at the oars to pull their hardest . . . even if they leave the manager in their wake.

14. Naomi - October 21, 2010

Well said, Nancy! mmm, think I could enjoy Russell Crowe as Robin Hood…

nrhatch - October 21, 2010

Russell Crowe seemed perfectly “suited” for the role . . . What aim! What precision! What timing!

Mon dieu!

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