BORROWING, LENDING, AND (IN)GRATITUDE

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Shakespeare | Hamlet | Act 1, Scene 3


LORD POLONIUS:

Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay’d for. There; my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!


It was Shakespeare’s birthday yesterday, so it seemed appropriate to offer up his opinion on this matter — or at least his opinion per Polonius in “Hamlet” …

In my world, I feel a clarification is necessary. There is a difference, a distinction as it were, between “borrow,” “take,” and “steal.” True the line is sometimes a fine one, but it is there. Let’s see if I can illuminate the differences.

To borrow something implies you intend to return said item, or, in the case of money, to return an equivalent amount of money … preferably during the lifetime of both you and the lender.

If you are asking for money or something else — but you do not intend to return the item or money to the “lender”? That isn’t borrowing.

If the lender actually believes you will return it, and you know you won’t, you’re a thief.

If the lender is your Mom or Dad and you never, ever return anything and they knows this, then it’s merely a little family dance you perform to save the feelings of both parties. It preserves the borrower’s pride and makes Mom feel less of a fool. Not theft … but also, not borrowing. Because, again, to borrow something implies an intent to return it. Absent that, it’s not borrowed. It’s gifted or stolen. Take your pick. Usually, anything “lent” to a child or relative is a “grant-in-aid.” I know I will never see it again. As sure as the earth is round and the sun shall rise, whatever has been “lent” is gone for good.

72-Sunrise-March-12_12

Perhaps we need a new words for borrowers who aren’t really borrowers; who just want something from you and figure you can afford to give it to them because whatever you’ve got, they should have.

There are, in this world, people of this world who lack boundaries. Who feel that whatever you have, should be theirs. By some kind of unwritten law. Not the result of need or poverty. It’s more a sense of entitlement, that they deserve “the good stuff” and “life (aka God, fates, government, aliens, Those People) have deprived them of their birthright. Never ever does it cross their minds that they may be responsible — in whole or part — for anything that has gone wrong in their lives.

Thus, by this logic, if you have it, you have deprived them of it and should give it to them. If you try to share with them, they will take it as a sign of weakness. I wouldn’t mind the giving, but I mind the ingratitude. This is a great quote for which I cannot find the source. I’ve heard it as Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, and several other people but cannot confirm it. Here it goes:

“I don’t know why he hates me so much; I never did him a favor.”

 

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

17 thoughts on “BORROWING, LENDING, AND (IN)GRATITUDE”

  1. Ben Franklin said that the surest way to make an enemy was to do a friend a favor. There are things I will not loan out because I KNOW if something happened involving that thing (my car is a major example) I would not be able to replace it. I figure it’s wise not to loan what you cannot afford to lose. I also figure if I lend something to someone, I’ve given it away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you are right and right and right. I think we need to fix our vocabulary. Because “loans” to family and friends are gifts or grants, but neither the “borrower” or the “lender” actually expects it to be returned.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I think you hit the nail on the head — with family the words “borrow” and “loan” are face-saving terms. My friend loaned her car recently to another friend to use it to drive her son (friend’s son) to the airport in Denver. On the way back, friend fell asleep at the wheel and totaled. It’s weird because I was there when the arrangements were made over the phone and I so badly wanted to butt in and say, “Don’t do that. Give them money for the shuttle, but don’t loan your car.” I had a bad feeling, but you know, you don’t run another person’s life regardless of whether you actually have second sight or not.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. And she wouldn’t have listened anyway. Nobody ever listens. I often wonder if our experience has any value at all. It ought to save someone else from going over the same cliff, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Yeah I thought if I said anything she could interpret it as my not liking the friend. I do like her, but I also don’t regard her as being really responsible which is no big deal unless she has responsibility for something of mine. I just figure I have to stay out of other peoples friendships, but the situation is that now my friend has to get a new car 😦

            Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s like when my granddaughter needs a twenty to put gas in the car. She know and I know she knows the money isn’t coming back, so all she says is ”Gramma, can you spare me some money?” It saves a lot of angst.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I will give something to you because you need it (and I can spare it), or you love it and I want to make you happy. But lending to friends usually just leads to bad feelings. I’d rather give it away and not expect anything in return. It’s easier and more realistic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny this should appear today. Yesterday at work I was lunching with some of guys and the subject of Sports Betting came up. Along with the above Shakespeare quote. Many of the men on my job bet on Football, Baseball, & basketball with resulting hurt feelings, arguments and fights. None of the women or at least none I know bet on sports. We may watch but it usually does not occur to ladies to through away their money on sporting events. I like sports but have very little understanding so no betting or gambling for me. I don’t even play Lotto, Powerball or Mega Millions. I have visited Las Vegas, Atlantic City and some Indian casinos in the past but I have my limit and never exceed my budget. I’ve never found gambling, lending or betting to be much of a thrill.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I won’t “play” for money. Not only do I not want to lose mine, I don’t want to take yours. It just leads to bad feelings. I’ve given money to people I love who needed it. Not a loan. A helping hand. Which is very different.

      Liked by 1 person

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