Friday, December 17, 2010

You must be who and what you are with some intensity.

You must be who, and what, you are with some intensity. This is not the same as a demand for overwork or strain. You can be a hero of achievement, or a person who is working hard to become that.  But if you are confused and uncertain of who or what to be, you can be confused and uncertain with gusto, being the superb actor you are. If you are lazy, you can be enthusiastically and undefensively lazy. If you are lazy, but you do no harm to others, you have a right to be left alone. If your laziness negatively impacts others - not just offends them - then you don't have a right to it. I.e., if you have entered into agreements and don't hold to them out of laziness, then you deserve a bad reputation.

If you are a violent or hateful person, you can also be what you are with gusto. I take a solemn attitude toward the reality of violence and hatred in people. It seems clear to me that even the most un-self-reflective person must experience phenomenal pain by being a hurtful. If there are those for whom being hurtful to others is enjoyable or at least not painful, I'm not sure I would recognize them as having human consciousness. They would seem to be as flat as a cartoon character, and effectively dead.

Why do we have such a clear image of a purely evil person, such as Hitler is supposed to have been, when so few of us have ever met such a person? Why do some of us superimpose that image on many people whom we have never met? Sociopaths are thought by current researchers to be 3-5% of the human population. Statistically, if you have met 1000 people, you have met 30-50 sociopaths. But successful sociopaths don't act evil in public, and unsuccessful ones are mostly locked up. The vast majority of the bad behavior we observe is caused by pain and causes pain to its doer. We end up treating practically everyone EXCEPT the most successful sociopaths as purely responsible for their own bad acts, as perhaps only the real sociopaths are in reality.

A pragmatic view seeks to understand how behavior is motivated, and recognizes its own reactivity. A negative emotional reaction on my part doesn't help me interact more smoothly with people. I can have such a reaction with gusto, though. Or I can let it drop, since it is only hurting me.

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