Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blind Spot

Kids call each other names. When I was young, I would see kids become enraged after being called a name. I did not relate.

My brother, who is three years younger, would get upset when kids called me names. He got upset with me because I did not get upset--enraged at my point of view--like someone getting upset with a friend who does not see the need to work to support himself.

I chose the correct profession--academia. In academe, we work with ideas. We realize that some of our ideas are possibly wrong. We realize that our ideas explain some things, but not all things. We are often open to better explanations and are eager to incorporate our ideas into others' explanations and ideas. Few of us take it personally. Professors who do take things personally, lack the scholarly distance that allows one to effectively evaluate evidence.

This does not mean that I never get mad at anything. But generally words, alone, do not bother me.

It surprises me when my children take insults personally, since I raised them. Two of the three have pretty thick skins, but they sometimes get upset with "just words." One of them, though, at one time had multiple episodes per day in which the cause of his screaming/fighting was, "He called me a name!"

I tried to counter the thin skinned one in my reprimand to the offending party. "Think skin, you must understand that thin skin admires you. He respects what you say, otherwise, he would not care when you call him a name. If he thought you were a fruit loop, he would not care awhat you said. But he cares deeply. You hurt him deeply. This shows that he respects your judgement of him. So please, try to give him the deep respect that he gives you. Don't call him names."

This infuriated my touchy son. Before long, he knew the routine. But I do not know if he ever understood.

In any case, I did not relate.

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