Thursday, December 18, 2014

The View From Down Here

I used to have facebook on my phone. I used to 'like' a facebook page called 'The Good Men Project' and a good way to kill time at work was to read the numerous articles it churned out on a daily basis.

I'll be honest, it is ambiguous at best as to who is qualified to lead discussions on what constitutes a 'Good Man' let alone the ambiguity of what constitutes a 'Good Man' itself.

Thus there was a lot of garbage aggregated on the site. But before I quit it (and later got fb off my phone) I did learn some heuristics that were good from it.

This is one that has made me better at life but possibly a much harder person to deal with.

The best judge of a persons' character is how they treat you when you are in the wrong.

This is not to say I now go out of my way to wrong people to try and learn about them. It's not necessary I just fuck up in the course of my everyday existence.

Just trying my best to do right by everybody, I generate a lot of opportunities for me to apologise in any given year. Because I am a doofus.

And I always did intuit those feelings of dissatisfaction, of injustice, anger etc. when I felt people were being ungracious in my defeat and submission. It just hadn't clicked how relevant or reliable it was.

Anybody who attacks you when you submit tells you, they have unchecked emotional issues. No exceptions.

What if the apology is only partial or incomplete? This is the difficulty.

Say I'm playing with a silenced pistol collected from evidence when it accidently discharged and the bullet almost hits the cranium of my fellow detective whom was walking by and remains blissfully unaware that she almost died. I can decide on my own autonomy that an apology is necessary even though my colleague has not experienced feeling offended.

I think most people would agree that this is good and noble and proper.

Now say that I'm a recovering alcoholic, currently onto the step of making amends. While I'm apologising to a friend for getting his name wrong when I first met him, his short stocky bald friend tells me I owe him an apology for refusing to lend him a sweater at a party, and for announcing that my reason was that his big head would stretch the neck hole. I also have the autonomy to decide on my own that no apology is necessary to the short stocky bald friend. You can only apologise for things you have come to accept were wrong. Nobody can demand an apology of you, which is literally not true, but when that happens apologies become strategic and almost certainly not sincere.

There's a juvenile tactic called deflection, when one is facing criticism. 'tohm you are always cutting me off.' 'yeah well you borrowed my car without asking and never returned it, now I have to cycle everywhere.' It's an attempt to even scores and counterbalance failing with failing. It's a shitty tactic because true or not, the matter at hand is the persons issue with me, it is not the time to introduce other wholly separate issues.

In the same way, an apology whether complete and unreserved or partial, the apology is the matter at hand. It is not the time to address any separate issues or components.

So basically if you do anything other than graciously, generously and compassionately accept an apology, you are going to fail my test.

Why care, tohm is on his hands and knees begging for mercy and he's powerless if I so choose to kick his teeth out?

Because you can actually snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I am still introspecting on the nature of advantage, but I would have to say advantage is not a situation where you can have your cake and eat it to. The point of an advantage is to have it, not eat it.

So perhaps frustratingly for people with unchecked emotional issues, the advantage, the moral high ground you gain when somebody apologises to you, you never get to do anything with it.

It gets worse though. Even when I haven't apologised, when I'm being petty and stupid and childish, this heuristic has allowed me the presence of mind to notice when somebody doesn't step up, be the bigger man and seize the advantage over me. I can judge people for returning my unchecked wrong with their wrong. I am capable of this feat of cognitive dissonance.

eg. If I'm pissed at you and giving you the cold shoulder. I will notice and judge you for giving it to me right back. I will also notice and judge you if you overcome this and call me out on my petty behavior.

I can sit down in the mud, floundering in my own ill-concieved incompetence and competently make accurate character judgements. I can only imagine this seems grossly unfair from the outside. Yet it is so useful, it really has helped me make great decisions.

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