Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Fantasy Commencement: Chapter 2

Ever since I graduated from college, I've fantastized about what I'd say if I were the speaker at one of those. I've actually come up with some good stuff, but never wrote any of it down. Where would I put it? Create a new file drawer for "Fantasy Commencement Address"? C'mon!

One of the things that's made me feel neurotic for much of my life, but which has turned out to pay serious dividends, is that, somewhere in the back of my mind, I keep incrementally working on everything I've ever worked on. 10,000 progress thermometers glacially eke forward. And this is one of them. So, as new commencement address ideas emerge, I'll publish them under this tag.

In every family, every office, every group of any kind, there's an unpleasant needy loudmouth. If we're forced to remain in that person's firing range, it feels excruciating. Even if their intentions are benign, they come to seem like demons; destructive and exhausting and The Worst Possible Thing.

But they're not. A person can be awful, corrosive, and exasperating, but there is genuine evil in the world, so anyone who wouldn't dream of going out of their way to do deliberate harm is a “5” at worst.

A person can be nasty, selfish, derelict, uncompromising, unreasonable, willfully ignorant, and astoundingly unpleasant without scratching a nanometer toward actual evil. They can inadvertently ruin lives and knock over every worthy thing without being evil. The end result of their actions may be indistinguishable from that of genuine evil, but intentions do matter!

All non-evil people are on our team. Awful people are the worst of the best, not the worst of the worst. They are the bottom rung of acceptability, not the bottom rung of humanity by a very long shot. We know this, yet we must constantly be reminded. Which is why I'm doing so now!

Why do we need reminding? Why do merely unpleasant people seem full-out evil? Because humans are getting nicer. We're mostly 6s and 7s. Plus: our day-to-day lives - even for the so-called poor of the First World - are quite comfortable. We have become entitled, leaving us increasingly sensitive to suboptimality and abrasion. When weak cell service or a delayed flight or no milk left for your coffee is "a nightmare", then, by the same token, a merely annoying person is Evil Incarnate.

We are spoiled princesses increasingly vexed by smaller and smaller mattress peas. We're Mrs. Howells, endlessly piqued by poor picnic weather and inattentive servants.

No, you're not suffering from deja vu. This is a re-working of an earlier posting.

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