Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Human Condition

Michael Armstrong
EN 101
iExamen 2


“You must really miss me! I don’t think you’ve been this nice since we started dating!” she said. “Why don’t you act like this all the time?” she asked. These were my girlfriend’s responses to my kind, useful, and true statements this past Tuesday morning. There is some psychological human characteristic that explains why humans don’t always say what is kind, useful, and true. Fortunately, for the sake of time, I lack both the knowledge and understanding of how to answer this question quantitatively. After participating in my second self-reflection experience I’m able to explain this phenomena qualitatively based off of my own experiences.
Going into the second iExamen I felt a certain level of confidence that I lacked during the first iExamen. That newfound confidence aloud me to better comprehend the effects of my actions, and how they compare to the way I usually act. That being said this iExamen, much like the last, was no easy task.
For me only communicating with words that are kind, useful, and true was a difficult task. I often find myself being the sarcastic one of my friends. Since I take that position very seriously I try to always slap in my sarcastic comments whenever I get a chance. Often times these comments aren’t very useful. After coming to this realization during my iExamen I learned to bite my tongue, and examine what happens when I don’t interject a conversation with sarcasm. Interestingly, I found that the conversations moved more freely.  Overall there may have been a couple less giggles, which were commonly a result of my dry humor, however the lack of giggles was offset by the fact that the contributors of the conversations seemed to have a better grasp on the groups attention, and as a result demanded more attention. In addition, I found myself learning more than I would have when I was solely focused on the conversation with the intent of tainting the it with sarcasm. I ended up listening to story that my friend was trying to tell. During my experience I found only saying useful comments was surprisingly beneficial for myself, and others. However, I found saying only kind and truthful comments to everyone to be... much different.
The idea of saying thing that are both kind and truthful can be somewhat paradoxical. What if what is true is not kind? What if what is kind is not true? I ran into this issue multiple times on Tuesday, and most often my response to this dilemma was to say nothing at all. The best example came on Tuesday morning. Most Tuesday mornings I’m able to sleep in as late as I would like, but this Tuesday morning was different. My roommates all play Men’s Lacrosse at Loyola. Due to their rigorously regimented schedules they must wake up at 6:30AM twice a week. As a result, I too wake up at 6: 30AM twice a week. Being the morning person that I am and having been woken up by roommate’s multiple alarms, his frequent stumbling over mounds of clothes, and his many attempts at finding the right workout outfit I was not very happy person at 6:30AM. In my roommate’s attempt to be on time he neglected to turn of the light, and that was the final spark that sent me down this path of self-reflection. When venting to some friends, later that day, I found myself following the parameters of the iExamen. I said how annoyed I was that on my only day to sleep in I was violently woken up at 6:30AM, and that my roommate was exceptionally loud and selfish earlier that morning. From my perspective both statements were useful and true. To me the statements were also kind. I was being far more reserved with what I was saying than with what I was thinking. If I were to be anymore kind, in my opinion, I would be making a statement that is not true, and thus breaking the rules of the iExamen. However, to my roommate I’m certain that he would not consider such statements as kind. My roommate would most likely say that I was not being kind, and that in truth what I was saying was not true. If my logic is as clear on paper as it’s in my head you too will see the paradoxical nature of the relationship between statements that are kind and true. In situations such as the two mornings ago statements that are true and kind to one person may be perceived as a rude lie to another person. Knowing and understanding this paradox more completely I have come to the realization that when faced with a situation, similar to the one previously described, I must find a way to tell the truth and be kind. If I cannot, then I should not speak at all. This self-reflection enables me to make better and potentially less harmful decision. Additionally, I will be less likely to have cases of “verbal diarrhea” which seem to plague so many us in these days of constant social interaction. Late Tuesday night I found myself able to experience one last situation of self-reflection.
Lying in bed, just before midnight, I reflected on what my girlfriend had said early. Why is it that I cannot always say useful, kind, and true words and statements? I reached the somewhat discerning, yet equally encouraging conclusion. I do not usually say useful, kind, or true statements because I fear a potentially awkward outcome, or simply assume that the statement is already known. For example, I honestly cannot remember the last time I told an immediate family member that I love them. It’s not because I don’t love them. It’s because I have always thought that an awkward situation would immediately follow me saying I loved them (especially since they likely can’t remember the last time I said it either). Furthermore, I often assume that they know that I love them, without me ever having to say it. Up until this point in my life I haven’t been able to fully understand why I have so much trouble with saying such a simple phrase. However, I’m encouraged by this realization, and will take the opportunity, in the future, to remember to capitalize on any chance to say only what is kind, useful, or true.

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