"Love, money, or respect?"
The young woman looked at the hunched man for a moment before responding.
"I can't have all of them?" she asked.
"That's beyond my power," he answered.
The young woman pondered for a while, weighing things in her mind.
"Not to be Machiavellian, but what's the difference between love and respect?"
"Love - love is to die for someone. Love is to protect. Love is man's desire - someone so committed to another their life is forfeit. Love is something parents should feel for their children. Love is something few men receive after childhood. Love is something women expect from their partners and are willing to trick themselves into believing they're receiving."
"Yes, respect. Desired by women and expected by men. Respect is equality. Respect is the golden rule - treat others as you wish to be treated. Respect is picking up after your dog, saying please and thank you, and taking care of your health. Where love is interpersonal, respect extends from the self to the community and back again."
The young woman paused again.
"Would you say one is better than the other? I don't want to fall into your man versus woman tropes."
"This is difficult. Love is power. Love is the inspiration of poets and politicians. Love gets the headlines. Respect, however, forms a foundation. While not impossible, it is difficult to love a person who does not respect themselves. It is difficult to love without respect."
"So, 'it is better to be feared than loved', one might say?"
"I think that has, indeed, been said."
"What I don't like about this whole formulation is the requirement that I must pick. Love and money and respect seem somewhat empty without one another."
"That's the trick. But choose you must."
"And one choice precludes me from attaining another? To choose respect is to neither be rich nor loved?"
"I do not close paths off - I merely guarantee whichever you choose."
"Wait, so how much money are we talking about?"
"You would become and remain among the top 1% wealthiest people in the world."
"And we live in a world where people fought and died to keep a real estate scammer as President of the United States?"
"And we live in a world where people dare not question the judgements of those who control coal and oil and tobacco and all the things that are destroying our planet and our people?"
"Well then, fuck it. Money, please!"
*inspired by a bar conversation which revolved around defining love & respect.