Blog Post: Smelling the Roses or Why won’t those people wear masks?

Linda Elder
Apr 22, 2020 • 34d ago
Smelling the Roses or Why won’t those people wear masks?

{"ops":[{"insert":"I was standing in a rose garden today, keeping my six or more feet distance from other people. I was enjoying the sun streaming down on my face while trying to take in the exquisite magnificence of this public garden that bursts out only a few weeks a year into all manner of colors, shapes and sizes of roses. I won’t try to describe it, because such beauty cannot be described in words.\n\nI noticed a woman walking alone, her face appearing somewhat worried. After a few minutes of circling the roses, she reservedly approached. She said, “Pardon me but do you mind if I ask you a question? I’ll make sure to keep my distance.” I said sure. She said “is it just me, or does it bother you that so many people are going against the rules and co-mingling, without masks, when we’re supposed to be keeping our distance?” (She threw a disappointing look at a few groups nearby standing close together and busily visiting).\n\nI could think of several responses. But the one that came immediately to mind was “well, I don’t expect much of humans. I don’t think of the human species as particularly sane. So although I recognize the problem you’re pointing out, I am basically ignoring those people. For one, I don’t think they would change their behavior if they were confronted, and likely everyone would get upset.” She said, “thank you for being honest and forthright with me.” I said, “there are many problems that deeply concern me, and which I would dearly love to solve, but which I seem able to do little or nothing about – problems like the violation of animal rights, and how in the world humans are going to pull off sustaining the earth resources for the long-term.”\n\nShe lit up when I mentioned my work in critical thinking, as people often do. “That’s what we’re lacking, critical thinking” she said (as they often say). Of course, when people say this, they typically mean that other people need critical thinking, or that other people need to be able to think as well as they themselves think. So I mentioned the problems of egocentric thinking, and sociocentric thinking, which manifest themselves in so many ways throughout human life, leading to such things as bias, bigotry, deception, and manipulation, and all manner of distortions, as well as the need to cluster together in groups even when it might kill us when we do so. As she continued to probe my thoughts, I tried not to leave out the important point that though the people she was concerned about, the people clustering to close together and not protecting us and them from the COVID19 virus, though they were making mistakes in thinking, we ourselves are really no different because each of us falls prey to mistakes in thinking, errors in judgment, our own self-delusions, and of course the deep seated need to be accepted by others.\n\nWhether either or both of us should have talked to these people to help them see reason is an open question; perhaps we should have done so; indeed we humans face an endless number of questions just such as these and we frequently are not that good at dealing with them.\n\nIn the end, though I didn’t think I answered this lady’s concerns, it was refreshing to be thrown a thoughtful question and given the opportunity to offer my reasoning to someone who seemed at least genuinely interested in my answer. We need more discussions like this, in public, about everyday mundane matters of importance.\n\nA few minutes after our farewell, she left the garden entirely. That was her answer to the people co-mingling – get away from them.\n\nBeing unwilling to relinquish the beauty of the garden quite yet, I took a more Stoic approach – though I can’t change many irrational, sad and disgusting things about humans, I can feast my eyes on these metaphysical flashes of red, yellow, orange and white. I will stop for just this moment and smell these roses, which will never come to us in quite the same way again.\n\nIf someone comes within 10 feet, I’ll go.      \n\n\n"}]}

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Posted by: Joseph Halter

{"ops":[{"insert":"Linda, I enjoyed reading your conversation with another admirer of beautiful roses in your experience.\nPerhaps, the rose is a good metaphor to describe the beauty and the beast of human nature. The rose can be one of beauty on the bud and it is can be one of beastliness on the thorny stem for the flower.\nHumans in their splendor of creativity and care for self and others is a thing of beauty but acts of violence or harm to self and others can be wickness.\nOur minds cultivated is like the rose with the potential of beauty but also the dark side of destruction. We are a complicated specie.\nWhat we sow is what we reap. Perhaps, one human petal of kindness at a time using critical thinking can harvest the beauty we all behold. Yes, you are our chief gardener, so please keep up the great work.\n"}]}