Monday, April 14, 2014

Morality dialogue

--- Book 1: Take care of yourself first ---

---[while in a plane]---

[caption] The airplane to LA, California was to set to touch the sky in few minutes, the rambling of its engine was too loud to let anyone hear conversations, but Lance wasn’t paying any attention, his fear of flying was overpowering, his questions asked of his father were flowing one after another, without giving enough time for his father to answer. When Rick's attempts to reply failed, he thought of engaging Lance in a conversation to distract him, so when the hostess started to go through flight instructions, and reached the part where it instructs the adults to put on their own masks first before helping putting on their kids' masks, Rick seized the opportunity, when Lance threw in yet another question.

Air hostess: ... put your own mask before helping others.

Lance: shouldn't you help me with my mask before doing your mask?

Dad: no. If I help you before I put on my own mask, I could die, or pass out, before I could help you. so then we both die. 

Dad: but if I do mine first, then I have the chance to do yours too, and then we could both live.

Lance: hmm

Dad: if you have children, and if you don't take care of yourself first, then you can't take care of your children either. 

Lance: makes sense

Dad: like if you don't get enough food/sleep/etc., then you can't do well helping your children and so you'll be failing at your responsibility to your children.

Lance: so the most important thing is to take care of yourself first.

Dad: yes. and one reason is because that's the only life you have control over.

Lance: what do you mean?

Dad: let's consider an example. 
do you remember when Cash wanted to play chess with me and then he tried to control my moves? 

Lance: lol ya.

Dad: and then i didn't want to play chess with him anymore, not if he's going to try to control me.

Dad: and do you remember when you were playing with Cash and he got upset?

Lance: i don't remember.

Dad: he asked you to play with him and then he got upset when you didn't play exactly like he wanted you to. and then you didn't want to play with him anymore because he was trying to control you. and then he screamed at you to try to get you to continue playing, and to do it his way, so he was not only trying to control how you play but he was also trying to control whether or not you play with him.

Lance: oh ya. that was bad.

Dad: the point is that you can't control people even if you wanted to.

Dad: and the more important point is that it's bad to want to control people.

Lance: ok i want to watch the movie now.

Dad: k

[caption] By the time the conversation was over between the father and his son the plane was among clouds soaring and looming over the city, making too little noises, Lance forgot about his fear, thinking about playing tic tac toe, deciding on whether he should play with his cousin or his dad, with the weaker player or the stronger player.

---[end scene]---

--- Jealousy ---

---[while Lance and Cash are at home playing. A friend of the family comes over, talks with dad a little bit, and then leaves. Cash notices a bag that wasn't there before dad's friend came over. He goes over there to see what's inside. Lance grabs 2 suckers out of the bag.]---

Cash: Awesome! Suckers!

[Cash unwraps a sucker and starts enjoying it.]

Lance: Really? I want some!

Lance: Ah man. There's only 1 sucker left.

Lance: Cash, how about you throw away one of your suckers?

Dad: What? Why should Cash do that?

Lance: Because then it'll be fair, so I'll feel better.

Dad: um, how does Cash losing a sucker make you feel better?

Lance: I just said, "then it'll be fair."

Dad: I don't know what you mean. How does Cash losing a sucker affect your life?

Lance: Because then it'll be fair.

Dad: You're not explaining what you mean. Why do you care that you have as much as Cash does?

Lance: Well, I'd feel bad if I didn't.

Dad: You're still not explaining what you mean. You're basically saying "I feel it because I feel it." That's circular.

Lance: Why did your friend only bring 3 suckers?

Dad: I don't know what that has to do with why you would feel better if Cash lost a sucker.

Dad: My friend didn't say anything about it. Maybe he accidentally left it here. Maybe he meant to bring it to his house to give to his kids, and maybe it fell out of his pocket while he was here.

Lance: But this isn't fair!

Dad: Are you trying to say that somebody wronged you?

Lance: Yes.

Dad: Who wronged you, and what did they do wrong, and what do you think they should have done instead and why?

[no reply]

Dad: Do you realize that we could just go to the store and buy a whole bag of suckers for like $2? I mean, anytime we go to the store you always get whatever candy you want, and anytime we don't have the candy you want, you've asked me to take you to the store and we go. So I don't see the problem.

Lance: Oh ya. 

Lance: Ok I want to go to the store right now.

Dad: k gimme 10 minutes to finish this email and we'll go.

Lance: Deal!

[Cash finishes his first sucker and get's out his 2nd sucker.]

Cash: I don't want this anymore. Chris you want it?

Lance: Ya gimme.

[Chris finishes his first sucker.]

Lance: Actually I don't want it anymore. These don't even taste that good.

Cash: I know!

Dad: Do you still want to go to the store?

Cash: ya I wanna get some hershey bars.

Lance: I don't know what I want.

Dad: you can decide later. get ready, I'm almost done with this email.

Dad: oh and go check to see what things you're out of. I think we ran out of your favorite chips.

[Cash and Lance run off to get ready.]

---[end scene]---

--- Embarrassment ---

---[Lance and Dad are at home.]---

[caption] The sun was shunning outside a rarity in the coldest winter, people ever remember, Rick was watching his favorite TV show relaxing in his room, after long day working suddenly Lance burst in the room calling his father in his familiar excited tone, Rick adores.

Lance: let's go to the grocery store.

Dad: k gimme like 15 minutes to finish this show I'm watching. go get ready.

Lance: k, I'll go see which of my favorite stuff we're out of.

[15 minutes passes and Lance comes back]

Dad: ok let's go.

Lance: Oh wait I need to change my socks.

Dad: uh.. what's wrong with the socks you're wearing now?

Lance: they're mismatched.

Dad: so?

Lance: well, I don't want to go out with mismatched socks.

Dad: well, do what you want, but i don't see the problem.

Lance: having mismatched socks is stupid.

Dad: um, you're wearing them now, are you stupid?

Lance: no, i mean doing it in public is stupid.

Dad: you're still not explaining why you think it's stupid in public while not stupid at home.

Lance: it's embarrassing in public.

Dad: do you mean that you don't want people to know that you're ok with wearing mismatched socks?

Dad: i mean, you're wearing them now so you must be ok with wearing them in general.

Lance: ya I don't want them to know.

Dad: why do you care about what they know or don't know?

Lance: I don't want them to laugh at me.

Dad: well first of all, you don't know why he's laughing. i see 2 ways it could go: either he's stupid and laughing because he thinks you're doing something stupid, or he's smart and laughing because he's happy that you did something smart.

Lance: uh, let's talk about the stupid one first. how do you know he's stupid?

Dad: why else would somebody laugh at you while thinking that wearing mismatched socks is stupid?

Lance: oh. it's cause he's stupid.

Dad: a smart person would think that you're smart for not caring about wearing mismatched socks in public.

Lance: oh!

Dad: a smart person would realize that maybe you like wearing mismatched socks, or that maybe you care about putting socks on quickly, leaving more time for more interesting things, instead of spending time finding matching socks.

Lance: oh ya! ok never mind the socks, let's just go.

[they get in the car and start driving.]

Lance: by the way, what do you do if somebody does laugh at you?

Dad: well first, how do you know if he's laughing at you or with you?

Lance: well, let's say he's pointing and telling other people to look too.

Dad: well, inside you can say to yourself 'oh that must be one of the stupid people who get embarrassed and who hide their real opinions for fear of losing approval from other people' and then you can giggle inside.

---[transition to talking about persuasion]---

Lance: giggle inside?

Dad: you can giggle outside too. or you can say the thing outside too, but for what? what do you gain by talking to this stupid person? do you think he's going to give you a chance to argue with him?

Lance: well, maybe.

Dad: consider that this kind of person doesn't really think for himself. he blindly borrows the opinions of other people. that's why he's laughing at you, because he thinks it's weird for you to think for yourself, to have your own opinions, to not be following the same thing that everybody else follows.

Lance: but people can change their minds.

Dad: yes, but only if they want to. only if they are interested to do that. do you think that somebody who laughs at you for wearing mismatched socks is going to be interested to argue with you about it?

Lance: probably not.

Dad: you can try. there's no harm in trying.

Lance: ok i will.

Dad: just be sure you know why you're trying.

Lance: what do you mean?

Dad: well, do you want to argue with him for your benefit or for his benefit?

Lance: you mean I shouldn't do it if it's for his benefit?

Dad: that's not what i mean. i'm saying that you should know what you benefit. and him benefiting should be only a secondary concern of yours.

Lance: what do you mean by "secondary"?

Dad: i mean that your primary goal is what you benefit, and your secondary goal is something you need to do in order to meet your primary goal. 

Lance: ok

Dad: and it means that if you decide to give up on your primary goal, then you drop the secondary goal too because there's no longer a reason to do it anymore.

Lance: what would i benefit?

Dad: well, maybe you think that they might have a good reason for thinking what they think, and then you can ask them about that to learn about it  you might find out that you're wrong and they are right, which is super common. actually, in general, when you're talking to someone, there's always something you can learn from him.

Dad: also, maybe you want to learn how other people think, and one opportunity to do that is to talk to other people.

Lance: ok so if i do talk to somebody about why he's laughing at me for wearing mismatched socks, then i should only do it if i benefit something, and i should know what i'm benefiting, like maybe i want to learn more about why he's laughing.

Dad: right.

[while watching futuruma s7e3 19:51 - Frye embarrassed Lela when he took a video of her boil singing and he made it public and it went viral. Lela complained about it and then later Frye wants to "make it up to her" so he embarrasses himself by making a video of himself and making it public (it too went viral).]

---[end scene]---

--- Book 2: How to treat people ---

[caption] tv show talks about Golden rule and platinum rule.

Lance: what's the golden rule and the platinum rule?

Dad: they are ideas about morality. about how people should treat each other.

Lance: how do they work?

Dad: the golden rule says: Treat a person how you want to be treated.

Lance: oh I've heard that before.

Dad: what do you think of it?

Lance: it makes sense.

Dad: what if what you wanted was for your friends to play the game you want whenever you asked for it? should other people do as you want whenever you say it?

Lance: no! I'm not the boss of them.

Dad: so you agree that the golden rule doesn't work.

Lance: well it could work sometimes.

Dad: but how would you know when it works and when it doesn't work?

Lance: you have to think about it.

Dad: think about it how? by what standard?

Lance: standard?

Dad: ya the golden rule is a standard of how to treat others.

Lance: um, wait, so what about the platinum rule?

Dad: it has the same kind of problem. it says: Treat a person the way he wants to be treated.

Lance: and when doesn't that work?

Dad: like, say a person wants to be controlled by people. so, should you control him?

Lance: who wants that?

Dad: well that's irrelevant to the question, but since you're asking, don't you remember Cash did that when he asked me to hide his candy so he doesn't eat too much and get sick?

Lance: oh ya lol!

Dad: what I did was argue that it's bad for him to give his control (responsibility) to me, and instead the better thing to do is for him to learn how to be responsible with his candy.

Lance: ya I remember. and he never ate that much candy again, so he never got sick again.

Lance: so what's the right way to treat people?

Dad: one way to say it is this: Treat a person the way he wants to be treated, or don't interact with him.

Lance: that sounds similar to the platinum rule.

Dad: it's vague though. it doesn't explain how to do it.

Dad: like, it doesn't say anything about how people should change their minds.

Lance: what do you mean?

Dad: well, it just makes it sound like people will either automatically have matching wants, or not, and then that's it. so someone might think that it's saying that they should either interact with each other because they have matching wants, or they should agree to disagree and not resort to violence and leave each other alone if they don't have matching wants. and there's nothing about what should happen in the middle.

Lance: well what's in the middle is thinking.

Dad: yes, thinking about what they are proposing to do together.

Lance: what's so hard about that?

Dad: it's not hard. people do it constantly already. things only get hard when people refuse the possibility of changing their minds.

Dad: like, do you remember when we wanted to eat and you and Cash wanted McDonalds but I wanted Taco Bell?

Lance: ya.

Dad: and I suggested that we first go to Taco Bell, get my food, then to McDonalds to get your food and play in the playground.

Dad: now imagine that I was unwilling to change my mind. imagine I said: "no we can't go to two places, nobody does that, that's stupid and embarrassing. The other McDonalds customers would laugh at us."

Lance: lol! ya that's stupid.

Dad: the only people that would laugh at us are the ones that think it's embarrassing to do stuff differently than others, which is stupid, so why should we care what they think of what we're doing?

Lance: so that's why people don't change their minds?

Dad: it's a common reason for why people don't change their mind, but it's not the only one.

---[personality traits are changeable]---

Lance: what are other common reasons?

Dad: well, none come to mind right now, but basically it's about having ideas that you aren't willing to change. some people have lots of those.

Lance: why?

Dad: some people learned that they have a personality and that it shouldn't be changed, or can't be changed, like it's a part of them and even the suggestion of changing a part of them feels like a personal attack to them. so they get offended and angry and they stop listening and stop cooperating.

Lance: [lost look on his face]

Dad: like, let's say there's someone who likes to jump into things. he's really courageous.

Lance: ya. is that bad?

Dad: it can be. there's lots of danger out there. he should do some research first. figure out whether it's a good idea or not.

Lance: ya.

Dad: but if you tell a person this stuff he might feel attacked that you're saying his personality is bad.

Lance: huh? why does he feel that way?

Dad: well, it's something that is common in society, so it's easy to learn this stuff when just about everybody thinks this way.

Dad: if you feel bad when somebody criticizes your methods, then you're never going to improve your methods. and the thing is that sometimes what's needed is to improve your methods, or else the person you're cooperating with might not want to continue interacting with you.

Lance: hmm.

Dad: like when Cash wanted to play chess with me, and he told me not to make a certain move, and he got upset when I made the move anyway. if Cash doesn't change his methods then I won't want to play chess with him.

Lance: but maybe you're the one who did something wrong. 

Dad: in general, yes it's possible that I did something wrong. but in this case, do you think I'm wrong to want to play chess without being controlled?

Lance: no. I don't like being controlled either.

Dad: it's no fun.

Lance: what else could you have done?

Dad: I said that he could have unlimited take-backs and I have none.

Lance: and what happened?

Dad: well that was before. we already agreed to that, and he still wanted to control me.

---[end scene]---

--- Revenge ---

---[while lance and his cousin are playing rough]---

cash: hey that hurt!

lance: oops, hit me back so we’ll be even.

dad: you mean revenge?

lance: what?

dad: you’re telling cash to take revenge on you.

lance: oh ya.

dad: one problem here is that it looked to me like you hit him by accident. i mean, you said “oops”.

lance: ya it was an accident.

dad: so why should cash hit you back?

cash: because then we'll be even.

dad: well that’s what revenge means, but… if you cut my leg off on accident, then i should cut your leg off on purpose?

cash: no! lol

dad: so what are you talking about?

[no reply]

dad: it’s not even if one person did something on accident and then the next person did the thing back but on purpose.

lance: ya that’s stupid.

dad: but even if you hit cash on purpose not on accident, it still doesn’t make sense why you care to have things be even.

[no reply]

dad: it's the same kind of mistake you made when cash got jealous about getting fewer suckers.

lance: it is?

dad: ya. cash wanted you to feel pain (lose a sucker), so that he feels better. that’s the same as you wanting to feel pain, (get hit), so that cash feels better.

lance: oh!

cash: i don’t get it.

dad: k, let me ask you this to help clarify things: what do you gain if lance loses something?

cash: hmm. nothing.

dad: so then why does it make you feel better if lance loses something?

lance: lol, it doesn’t make sense.

cash: but what if somebody hits me first? then shouldn’t I teach him a lesson?

dad: what lesson?

cash: that if he hits people then people will hit him back.

dad: so let me understand what you’re saying, correct me if i’m wrong. you’re saying that the lesson is to learn to stop wanting to hit people. is that it?

cash: ya.

dad: but people like that don’t stop wanting to hit you just because you hit them back. he’ll just want to hit you again to take revenge.

cash: so i’ll hit him again.

dad: and he’ll hit you again. and that cycle will never end. so when does the lesson work?

cash: uh…

dad: teaching lessons by hurting people is stupid. it doesn’t work. there’s no lesson being learned.

---[switch to talking about self-defense]---

cash: but before you said that if somebody hits me, i should hit him back to get him to stop.

dad: that’s not what i said. i said this: if somebody hit you and you think you’re still in danger, then yes you should defend yourself to protect yourself from danger by hitting him back, trying to make sure he doesn’t keep hitting you.

cash: ok so…

dad: but that’s not revenge. you’re not hitting him so that he feels pain. you’re hitting him so that you protect yourself from danger. and whether or not he feels pain is just a side effect -- it wasn’t the primary goal, it was just a secondary goal so that i can achieve the primary goal.

lance: but you’d be hitting him to make him feel pain so that he stops.

dad: well that’s if you choose to hit him. maybe instead you choose to shoot him dead.

lance: what!?

dad: well, if an intruder broke into our house while you guys were sleeping upstairs, and if i had a knife to my left and a shotgun to my right, what should i do?

lance: what?

dad: should i pick up a knife so i can fight him evenly? or should i pick up a shotgun?

lance: use the knife?

dad: and risk your lives!?

cash: no! use the shotgun!

dad: right! i’ll use the shotgun and shoot him dead. but i didn’t do it so that he feels pain or otherwise loses something. i did it to protect us from losing something — our lives. and him losing his life is a side effect.

lance: but what about how we put people in jail? isn’t that revenge?

dad: no, it’s self-defense. society wants to protect itself from murderers.

lance: but don’t the murderers feel pain while in jail?

dad: well in the past some people who ran the jails liked revenge. so they tried to make the inmates feel pain. that’s bad. also some judges cared about revenge. also some of our laws justified revenge. but not anymore.

lance: so don’t they need pain so they can learn their lesson?

dad: what’s the lesson?

lance: oh ya, nobody learns lessons by being hurt.

dad: so self-defense is good. and revenge is bad. don’t confuse the two because they are different. revenge is about wanting somebody to be harmed, and self-defense is about wanting to protect yourself from harm.

lance: ok.

dad: be clear on who you are concerned about.

lance: what do you mean?

dad: doing self-defense means you are primarily concerned about yourself. doing revenge means you are primarily concerned about him.

cash: oh ya! the most important thing is to take care of yourself.

---[end scene]---

---[while sam (dad) and danny are playing pool]---

sam: hey do you know what karma is?

danny: what?

sam: it’s wanting revenge but not wanting to get your hands dirty.

danny: lol

[sam's teammate (danny) shoots in 4 in one turn on his first turn.]

sam: must be some reverse karma going on.

[everybody laughs]

[but then the other team catches up and is now winning.]

sam: you know, there’s no half credit.

danny: huh?

sam: you played a kickass beginning, but if we lose now, none of that counts for shit. [grin]

danny: ya. [grin]

sam: it’s funny. I’m blaming you for not doing much now but one reason we haven’t won yet is because of my non-performance. [grin]

danny: lol

[then sam shoots in 2 in a turn and wins the game.]

sam: hah, reverse jinx.

danny: lol

sam: see. i know how to play the universe.

---[end scene]---

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