Thursday, 16 October 2014

Reasonable People

I don't know about you, but if somebody tries to flatter me, their best bet is to compliment my reasonableness. I'll tell you why. Most things about me are an accident of birth. I get compliments on my blue eyes, my intelligence, my sense of humour, my artistic abilities, etc. I also get compliments on my children and my animals. All of these things are random really, and mostly luck.

But my reasonableness was hard earned. I worked on it doggedly over the years, from a very poor start. When people admire how reasonable I am, that's a true compliment because it's something I DID. Along with my cooking skills, it's really all that I can claim as having worked for.

What is reasonableness? It is the choice of listening properly to what people say, and responding (speaking or behaving) in an appropriate way. A way that is fair, kind, and sensible. It involves wisdom and compassion. It involves thinking quickly, but not knee jerk reaction. It requires considering all angles, avoiding selfishness, and being careful in choice of words, all without dithering or delay.

It's not easy, and it shouldn't be. Worthwhile things are a bit of an effort. So laziness tends to compromise reasonableness too.

Sometimes I fail. I'm only human. Sometimes I'm stubborn and my reasonableness takes a dent. That's the opportunity to reflect on why and improve. I try, always, to improve.

This is important to me. I hear others say how often they mess up in this area, then say it's OK because they mean well and they love you. That's not good enough, and they aren't trying hard enough. So yes, I want other people to be very reasonable too. But I'm reasonable enough to know it isn't going to happen.

This is how I judge people. People come in all flavours, and nobody can be blamed for the cards they were dealt. But at some point as they mature they are taught by others how to behave as good members of society, as decent human beings, and it is then a matter of personal choice how they deal with other people.

I'm either lucky or choosy, or maybe I just don't get out much. Most of the people I come in contact with are reasonable, and most of those who aren't are obviously compromised in ways I understand and make allowances for.

Still, as I'm sure you experience also, from time to time I come up against those who have had all the same options, and have chosen to be unreasonable, and to be unreasonable about being unreasonable. Even if it's only on certain topics or in certain situations. They are predictably awkward, difficult, unreasonable, and sometimes downright obnoxious. I judge those people negatively, and I don't apologize for it.

There is a theory out there that we are all doing our best with the experience, character, and skills we each have available to us. I believe this is only true of reasonable people. That is to say, there are those who knowingly and deliberately do not do their best. They do not listen to reason. They do not listen to good advice even though they secretly recognize it as such. They do not care if they harm others as a result. I will not be tolerant of such behaviour, I call it out, and I will avoid those people if necessary.

Life is too short to have that sort of negativity poison it, and if you choose to be an arsehole, you should expect cause and effect to come into play. It is a choice. There is no excuse. It's not funny, it's not clever, and you can do better.

1 comment:

  1. Nice. Part of reasonableness (is that a word?) is the ability to change one's mind in the face of new evidence. Science does this, eventually. Religion does not. Individuals often have a hard time with it and institutions, including scientific ones are even worse. So much injustice comes from pride being involved and people/institutions being unable to say "Oops, mistake, sorry." Think of innocents rotting in jail because the the evidence that would exonerate them is being suppressed. Think of children being removed from a perfectly fine home because an overzealous worker misinterpreted a sign. And so on. Being able to say, "Sorry, I now see that I was wrong there." is a large part of being reasonable,