Posted by: r.m. | December 26, 2008

philosophies that cause our ruin

So, I just came back from a Christmas dinner.  Good food. Good wine. Interesting company. And quite depressing conversation.

There were several aspects to the conversations that erupted over the 5 hours.  All of which were sad.

(1) “I just want to live my life. I don’t want to be bogged down with rules and sacrifice. I am only here on this earth for a short time so I just want to enjoy my life.”  That was philosophy number 1, as presented by someone quite calmly, quite comfortably, quite boldly, over dinner. Why? She was asking me why I am a vegetarian (yes, I’m back to being a vegetarian), and I tried to briefly explain to her the environmental reasons (fish, beef, etc).  She just shrugged it all off and explained to me that she just wants to live her life.  I sighed.  And I whispered to my brother (seated to my left) that such is the core of the problem.  To feel comfortable saying, I only care about my own short life and I don’t care about anything that happens afterwards or any impact I make during my own life or what kind of life I am leaving for those around me and for those yet to be born, is hugely problematic – not just on an individual level but on a societal level.  That her comments would be so calmly accepted reveals deeper problems for us all.

(2) “Well, that’s your opinion. I have my opinion.  We all have our facts and our opinions.” That was philosophy number 2. (the number, by the way, reveals only the order in the conversation and not the priorty of the philosophy itself.)  Here, we have the idea that all opinions are equal. The mere fact that I hold an opinion grants it merit of its accord, and if you hold a counter opinion, then your opinion also holds equal merit. No discussion on the process through which you got your opinion is necessary.  If I say that eating beef grown a certain way and transported long distances is harmful to the environment, and you say otherwise, both our opinions have equal merit. Simple, eh? Logical? Not at all.

(3)”I don’t want to be involved. I don’t want to do anything.” This philosophy (#3) assumes that there is such an option, assumes that one can be neutral, uninvolved.  Example: I don’t want to be involved in the boycott. I just want to go on living my life.  Well, that person is being involved. Rather than supporting the boycott say, of, products that support the Zionist state of Israel, that individual is opposing the boycott.  No neutrality. Doing nothing is doing something: nothing.  Choosing not to act remains an action.  Choosing to remain indecisive is a decision. Being “out of the picture” means supporting the status quo, and thus supporting the powerful.  This philosophy is one that is accepted by those who deem themselves able to stand aside, those economically privileged enough to consider themselves unimpacted.

(4) The fourth philosophy isn’t quite a philosophy as much as a way of life, a style of conversation. Or, more accurately, a lack of conversation.  Here we have a man talking to a woman, and, yes, typically this style of conversation is gender-biased.  The communication style is akin to a hammer: asking undefined questions, not waiting for an answer, and jumping to unjusified conclusions.  And the man calls it a conversation.  When the man engages another man in the conversation, then he pretends to listen and does not interupt.  There are many layers here: arrogance (since he continues to speak on behalf of the other, and sicne he believes he knows it all), sexism (since he finds it acceptable to be rude and impolite to women, and only to women), and a blaring incapacity to listen.

So, bring these four philosophies together and we have a scary situation.

How to rectify them?



  1. perhaps you could share the story of tim dechristopher in utah. i wonder what they would have to say about that… well, everyone except for the man who doesn’t listen. so depressing to hear these points of view. what sad lives these people must live in their little insular, myopic world.

  2. Well first off, Merry Christmas
    In my opinion,
    1) being able not to care is ignorance
    2) the opinion thing, i’m sorry but that’s just a lack of education
    3) exactly.
    4) Generation gap so wide i wouldn’t know what to say.
    PS: i’m in qatar right now and i noticed that although women do work here, i couldn’t help but get the feeling they are only working for show: they’re only allowed to work when they are entirely veiled, and they don’t even talk to men -not even returning common courtesy- (there’s always a shadowy man lurking around as if to watch over them) i find this to be more demeaning to women than not being allowed to work at all…. not to mention they have the least -fill in the blank- jobs ever!

  3. ahhh so i have to write my full name henceforth so as not to be mistaken for someone else 🙂

    my opinion (hehee) is: don’t waste energy rectifying that, enjoy the food and wine, say your facts and opinion and leave, if the seeds you plant fall on good grounds, they will grow, and as our grandparents used to say: “l 3ajeena li ma btilzo2, btitrok 3alame”, then move on and sow seeds elsewhere, plenty good ground around.

    all the best in your harvest 😀

  4. All these philosophies at one dinner. You need to change company 🙂

  5. What is interesting here is a similar experience I had all my life. I was a vegetarian from the age of 8 to the age of 36 (started by seeing a slaughterhouse on a school field trip when I expected to see a farm. I was sick for weeks and the only way to get me to get over it was for my parents to give in and let me avoid meat…. had to end when I had severe anaemia that was putting my pregnancy at risk, so now I have a “maintenance meat diet” of 2 portions a week…)

    But the point of all that long preamble was this: when we are vegetarians, others feel that we are the strange ones, that they can ask all kinds of questions about it that express how odd we are, that “a little bit of meat hurts nothing” and going on about the kind of teeth we have ane whatnot!

    I would like to have the courage to point out to them that THEY are the ones who should be explaining their behaviour, (if there are explanations to be given), because it is far more complex that people who live sedentary lives need all that animal protein. (Some eat it twice a day). It is like when they find out I don’t believe in God, all of a sudden, I am the one who is imagining things!

    Let people believe what they like, but it is the action that counts.

  6. well i dont know how to rectify them but everyone has their own opinions but i dont think that we shouldnt care since we are the ones that will eventually be affected the most…the 4th philosophy, the one where the man is talking and not giving chance to the woman well that happens everywhere and we should just learn not to be polite at times and stop him and say what we have too even if its not what the men want to hear.
    Sally El-Koussa

  7. Haha, all too true. There is also the infamous 5th philosophy:
    “What for? It’s not like you can make a difference. Your burger will end up in someone else’s stomach anyways”
    This one is multifunctional as well (not alluding to vegetarianism here). It’s basically letting someone off the hook because the pickle that we’ve landed ourselves in is ironically too big of a mess to make a difference, so why try?
    It is quite frustrating isn’t it?

  8. My friend once told me ignorance is a bliss, but I don’t agree with her. It’s so annoying when someone becomes so self centered, and doesn’t bother. Even if his or her change are going to have minimal effect, no one should be reluctant to help or to change. It’s for our own good afterall 🙂

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