PARADE MAGAZINE, September 21, 2003. Contributing Editor Bill 0. Reilly —host of “The 0 ‘Reilly Factor” on Fox News and author of the best-seller “The No Spin Zone “ —has a new book, “Who ‘s Looking Out for You ? “ published by Broadway Books. In this excerpt, he shares with us what he believes is essential for a full, rich life.

ARE YOU LOOKING OUT ONLY FOR YOURSELF, FOR NUMERO LJNO? If you are. if you are a poster child for “The Me Generation.” I have something to tell you: You are in dire trouble.

Here’s the “no spin” truth: America and France lead the world in self-absorption. The U.S.A. is the most powerful country the world has ever seen. but our culture has been polluted by the “where’s mine?” theme. We see it everywhere—in con-stant advertising about possessions and good times, and products to make us look as buff and alluring as possible. The human brain is not fully formed until age 25, but by age 3 the American brain is already screaming. “I want stuff!”

This addiction to acquisition takes a lot of money, energy and thought. And all of that thought is about you.

“So what?” you say. “So freakin’ what? What’s wrong with taking care of Number One’?” Well, listen up: if you’re always thinking about yourself, you’ll rarely look out for anyone else. And you’ll soon run out of what you must have for a full, rich life: People who will look out for vou.

Generous people will not associate with selfish jerks.. To have a have to be a friend. That’s an old Irish saying, and at times the Irish do know what they are talking about.

Only good people can really look out for you. Bad people are looking out for themselves. They will pretend to have your best interests at heart but will kick you in the head when your usefulness to them expires. But a good friend will last a lifetime. And that person will look out for you if you demonstrate that you are worth h looking out for.

It doesn’t matter who you are. If you can’t get quality people to look out for you. you are in trouble..Consider the singer, Mariah Carey, who has money, fame and power. Here’s what she told a writer after her emotional meltdown: “No one was looking out for the human being inside the machine that pays everybody.” She learned the hard way.

So my premise is simple: Before you can find help in this world, you have to develop qualities that are respected by good people. If you a are selfish, shallow, money- grubbing. manipulative, callous, or self-destructive, you’ll soon be on your own. Nobody will ever look out for you, with the possible exception of your mom. She is compelled by nature to do so.

Cultivating and nuturing good friends is not easy. Every two years I put together a trip for a bunch of my male friends. Some people are amazed that I can get a couple of dozen guys to show up in a place Hawaii for a few laughs and a little hell-raising. But these are people who know the value of friendship. I have spent as lifetime assembling these friends, and I know hey look out for me just I look out for them. Guys like John Blasi, who I grew up with in Levittown on Long Island, and Mike Dutko. a cop turned defense lawyer in Florida.

So why have I bothered tracking these guys throughout my life? What in it for me? Well, the anser is: nothing much in worldly terms. I’ve been very lucky and never had to ask anyone for anything substantial. something . But the men – and some women. in different circumstances—I deal with as friends all have attributes that I admire: They all are honest, so I can get perspective and no spin opinion on any subject I need. And if I ever lost my job or became very ill. I know these guys would help me in any way they could.

It is amazing to me that many of us just cannot tell the good people from the bad. I have seen a lot of marriages break up. and Fm always surprised that the aggrieved party didn’t see it coming. Selfish, manipulative people usually are not subtle. Their character is obvious to any perceptive person. The problem is that most of us do not see people for what they really are—we see them for what we want them to be.

How many times have you seen friends or family attach themselves to just the worst person this side of Saddam Hussein? Everybody knows the person is “pond scum” except them. And then when the bad person finally rums on your friend or your family member—he or she is stunned. betrayed, bewildered.

I use the term “weasel” a lot when talking about untrustworthy people. Weasels are small carnivores that hunt alone at night and viciously kill their weaker prey There are legions of human weasels in America today. Here’s some advice on how to spot a weasel: Watch how your new friend or lover treats people other than you.

Watch how she/he treats her parents. If he’s divorced, find out why. If she’s dysfunctional, run like hell. even if she does look like Heidi klum.

Adults rarely change unless desperately motivated to do so . No matter how good, kind, generous and loving you are, the heavy odds are that an emotionally damaged person will remain damaged, and a bad person will remain bad no matter what you do. Walk briskly away from destructive people and find generous people to hang out with. Then you’ll have a chance of finding an effective support system in life.

In the end. you are not what you eat. Rather, you are whom you associate with, if you run around with despicable people. the heavy odds are that you are despicable as well. And if you are paying somebody for advice, beware. Many “therapists” are looking out for your checkbook, not you.

 So let’s disperse with the psychobabble . And set up a simple rule to live by: People who give you intoxicants, an unnecessary hard time. dishonest answers or anything consistently destructive are to be rejected. Any wavering in this regard, and you are taking the entrance ramp onto the sad-life highway.

If you embrace honest. caring and strong people, I can almost guarantee that you will have accomplished many positive things on this Earth. But if you go it alone or book passage on the ship of fools, expect one of those fools to toss you over the side when the big waves come.

And if you still don t believe me, then listen to George Washington the father of the greatest country the world has ever seen. George is my go-to guy on “looking out for you” quotes: “Associate yourself with men of quality if you esteem your own reputation, for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.” YOU TELL THEM! G .W. Bad company will never look out for you!

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