01.10.2011 Feature Article

Relationships: Pig-Mentality

Relationships: Pig-Mentality
01.10.2011 LISTEN

Benjamin Franklin gets us to a rather placid start for what promises to be an interesting discourse. He states: “I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.” If this statement can be sustained then it is worth considering the subject for this article.

Pig-mentality as can be deduced from the word is a combination of two words. I have crafted the term to embody a kind of mentality that people have where they neither value what they themselves nor others have. King Solomon, writing in Proverbs 11:22 and Jesus Christ speaking in Matthew 7:6, provide the reasoning for the term 'pig-mentality'. A closer observation of society should hopefully lend more support to the existence of people with this kind of mentality as well as their 'victims'.

There appears to be a tendency for people to measure the true value of others not using immediate or discernible value but deprival value. Deprival value in other words may be termed as a form of opportunity cost. An adage corroborates this position by suggesting that one gets to know the value of a thing when it is 'gone'. The million dollar question that springs to mind is: “Why do we wait to lose something before realising its true value?”

Returning to the statement by King Solomon mentioned above, it reads as follows: “Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman, who shows no discretion, [Proverbs 11:22 NIV]. Jesus Christ further builds on this statement by cautioning that: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. [Matthew 7:6 NIV].

The above scriptures lend support to human behaviour as can be seen in existence. The sad observation is that pigs do not value pearls as they lack the true understanding of its use and worth. It may be argued that one would respect something they find valuable and in that frame of events, pigs do not obviously respect pearls. To understand why pigs do not value pearls, one needs to understand their lives. All they are really used to is mud and dirt. It is fair to say that the environment you live in will determine the product you produce. Pigs enjoy dirt as to them it's their favourite location and that is what they are used to.

There are people who subscribe to a dystopian view of life. They see life as so bleak that there is nothing good that it can offer. When you come close to such people, you would be clasping a fist of illusion if you ever expect them to see any good thing in you. Their worldview has tainted their perception about life. From the spectacles through which they view you, you can only expect them to see you in one way. Rather than celebrating you, they tend to tolerate you. How can you possibly expect such people to tell your true value and treat you as such? That is an elusive aspiration to foster.

Proverbs 11:22 likens the behaviour of a fair woman without discretion to a pig's perception of jewels. The key similitude is that of perception stemming from understanding. To the writer of Proverbs, a woman who is without discretion acts in a particular way because of her lack of perception, the same problem that pigs also have. The pig treats the jewels as worthless, the same way a spouse may treat her other half as worthless. How many spouses are acting without discretion towards their other halves because they lack the right perception of their true value?

A likely outcome of such wrong perception is that it leads to the trampling of jewels under foot. How many people find themselves in relationships where they are trampled under foot by those who purport to love them? The sad thing about life is that at times you wonder why anybody could treat any person like some do. Some beautiful women live in homes where their value has been considered as trash. Other submissive wives have found their adherence to scripture and good nurturing being used against them. They have been turned into something in a disguised form of slaves. In many homes, the stories of many are untold. Some spouses have lost their self-esteem from repeatedly being told and made to feel like they are nothing but worthless and possibly competing with a door mat. Is it not surprising that the jewels that others are desperately seeking are being trampled under foot by some who do not value what they have?

As if the story was not already that bad, it so happens that those suffering from pig-mentality would not only trample you under foot but also “turn and tear you in pieces”. One is likely to leave such a relationship worse off if care is not taken. How many spouses have either been pushed to take their lives or even ended up in mental homes as an effect of pig-mentality? The truth is that people exhibiting the symptoms of pig-mentality would leave you shattered. Even if you manage to escape from that relationship, you would have a long way back trying to regain your self-esteem.

The problem with people who have pig-mentality is not just that they do not value what they have neither valuing what others have but also they are likely to succeed in causing the victims themselves to ultimately believe the lie and possibly accept their 'depreciating' value. Dare I then posit the view that pig-mentality is transferrable? Many abusive relationships usually show the effects of pig-mentality. It so happens that the perpetrators of that mentality mostly use the other party and drop them like a stone once they are through with them. Oscar Wilde sees these people as cynics “who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

There are many people in relationships who suffer from the effects of pig-mentality. This is a deep-rooted problem that deserves much effort and time in addressing it. While I am quick to admit that this article does not claim to be a nostrum to such a problem of diverse causes, I do believe that the suggestions proposed here should hopefully point one in the right direction.

In suggesting solutions it is important to look at the issue from two sides; 1) The person with pig-mentality and 2) The one suffering the effects of pig-mentality

It is reasonable to believe that those with this kind of mindset either acquired it knowingly or unknowingly. It is also likely to stem from a very low self-esteem or on the contrary from a self complex which believes that one is superior and the other party in a relationship is inferior. Such a warped view of one's own self is likely to result in the treatment of the other person in a way that is reprehensible. What further complicates this situation is that some people with pig-mentality do not appear to see anything wrong with the way they behave. To them, it's just a normal way of life. It so happens that a way for them to revise their view only dawns upon them when they lose what they have. Georges Duhamel supports this view when he argues that: “We do not know the true value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory.” Counselling should be considered by people with pig-mentality.

Victims of pig-mentality may also need to seek help before it is too late. They may be confronted with the dicey choice of whether to remain in or leave the relationship. That choice can then be astutely made by the victims themselves based on the context of their situation. There is no one size fits all solution here. William James offers some advice when he says that: “Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”

For such people who choose to remain and hope for a change, it is worth noting what Mark Twain said: “A round man cannot be expected to fit in a square hole right away. He must have time to modify his shape.” Any relationship no matter how bad it is can be worked at, the question that remains is how much time and effort one is willing to invest in it. In closing, it is worth adding that both perpetrators and victims of pig-mentality have a choice to make with attendant consequences.

Dr. Frank Robert Silverson
Email: [email protected]