2/5/13 questions and discussion
1-how do we solve the "liar's paradox"?1
2-when will the cost of living be more than our ability to earn wages?8
3-to what extent does capitalism contain the seeds of its own destruction?9
4-why does the Right hate Obama so viscerally? Why does the Left love him?5
5-what does the Super Bowl say about our culture and is there anything redemptive in it?5
6-is there a constitutional right to drive, and if not, should there be?6
7-which is more beneficial: honesty or kindness?10
8-assuming technology is slowly replacing all our labor, where will we work when it does?6
which is more beneficial: honesty or kindness?
Meg: my co-worker and I are both very honest. We don't always get along because she's a "princess" and my honesty hurts her inner princess. She's honest with me in her dislike for my anti-princess honesty. Certain situations we need to be kind. Is or isn't there a gray area between honesty and kindness?
Dick: do you think if you're not honest you're lying?
Meg: I'm pretty blunt. I like Minnesota nice to a point. Honesty can be helpful. Kindness isn't always the opposite of honesty.
Mert: assume for the sake of discussion that kindness sometimes results in a white lie. Then say that the person you white-lied to does something bad with that information. Is that still kind? Are you responsible?
Meg: I am. I'm a fan of personal accountability.
Mitch: what about lying by omitting information?
Meg: if I omit I've lied. Sometimes that's constructive, though.
Jim: not all conversations are equal. How a woman looks in a dress, how grandma who is dying looks, for example. A lot of times it's of no consequence. We don't want to hurt anyone. Then there a moments we end up with saying to the person asking "do you really want an honest answer?"
Mitch: do you tell them the dress is great when she looks terrible in public?
Jim: if she loves that dress I say it looks great. If I want to impress others I say it's "not fashionable."
Andrew: we don't generally want honesty. We want others to affirm us [we honestly do!]. When someone says "be honest" we know they don't want honesty because they're really invested in our answer. Honest politicians go nowhere. Vagueness is functional for them and for us. Pigeonholing either honesty or kindness is absurd. What's the greater good? I appreciate Huckabee's down the road honesty even though I thoroughly disagree with his opinions. What irritates me is the bait and switch of political rhetoric. Ron Paul's like Huckabee to me. People can use honesty as the excuse for just being a dick, for "piling on." It's become vogue lately. It's ok to be honestly nice.
Jim: lack of civility is a carnal sin.
Steve: performance reviews on the job are just like this example from Andrew. If a supervisor wants to keep an employee they have to couch their language in positives so as not to anger anyone. They're never honest conversations. This renders them almost pointless.
Jon: is this an honest dishonesty?
Steve: it tends to be overly positive.
Oren: story: when you look into your girlfriend's eyes and say "the hands of time stand still when I look into your eyes" vs. "you have a face that will stop a clock." Somewhere I heard that if we want someone to make an improvement in their behavior or work, make it seem easy.
Dick: when I hear "let me be honest with you", I know I'm in for some tall tales. I got into a trap once when I was asked to be both. It was both helpful and hurtful. Situations dictate how we proceed. The example is of a man I worked with for years who had a drinking problem, had died, and I was at his funeral. During his working years his daughter/drinking buddy would call me (I was his supervisor) in the middle of the night to say her dad was too sick to work. I never met her face to face until his funeral. She was his accomplice. At the funeral I was introduced to her. She said you're the guy I used to call to say dad was sick. I said yeah we knew "what was going on."This upset her but made the co-workers who overheard this conversation feel better for all the years of trouble he'd/she'd caused us on the job.
John: ministers who must give a eulogy for someone they either don't know or know only bad things about -- what ought they do? A fundamentalist just dwells on sin but what do the other, less rigid preachers do? If Fire and Brimstone isn't your thing, what do you say? Sometimes the question is do they have the right to ask for an opinion. For example, my wife once had to lay someone off. The person wasn't an ideal worker but after her unemployment she called my wife for a reference. My wife gave her a decent recommendation, not mentioning the woman's shortcomings.
Mitch: when I talk to my boss it's a very different beast. I can't really find the happy kindness/truth balance. I want to be kind and want to keep my job which discourages honesty sometimes. I feel tied up due to not having a specific kind of rapport with them.
Steve: I suggest you answer their questions with questions -- to better learn what and how to answer.
Mitch: when BS-ing with friends do the same rules apply?
Jim: no, it's definitely situational. One thing that's an assumption here is that honesty has a direct relationship with what we call true. Asking for an honest answer is assuming some kind of truth is unquestioned, or you are asking for them to reflect/affirm your truth.
Andrew: as to John's take on religion, I find myself now thinking about people I know who are religious. How many people at church truly believe what the priest/minister is saying to them in a sermon?
Dick: here's a true statement: one doesn't have to be honest when being tortured! The worst thing I ever heard my best fishing friend say about someone he didn't like was "divide it by two." He could be relied upon to never intentionally insult anyone. When he died his funeral was attended by many.
John: I have a theological correction for Andrew's idea about the clergy: in Catholicism, suicide is a mortal sin -- the worst kind. The theology that doesn't include catholic levels of sin -- protestantism/The Reformation -- is and was an intellectual step backwards but a political step forward.
Jon: I agree with the poet Rilke who mused that perhaps our "monsters" are the aspects of ourselves that require the most attention, not the least or are not to be avoided. My experience with being rude or too honest with people has always been in large part due to my inability to notice whether or not I have insulted or hurt someone (Aspergers). This has predictably and consistently led most people I have met to assume I am the kind of monster we typically label a jerk or an asshole. So while I wholeheartedly endorse the sensitivities we've been recommending tonight I wish to emphasize the kinds of destructive honesty or kindness that come as the result of neurology, chemistry, even naivety. In such cases there isn't a choice to be kind or to be honest. This argues against Free Will too.
Phillip: I once met a former boss of mine who told me he'd just been fired from his job. He had, years before, fired me. I gave him my consolation and after turning away from him put a devilish smile on my face!