My point is that it’s a pity that culture has given us arbitrary rules to live by that in many cases, hinder comfort, efficiency and even mental health. I think that society’s stifling of human processes is responsible for many of the mental problems that people possess. Anthropologist James L. Peacock remarked of the Ndembu of Africa that mental healing simply required “the group that had caused the maladies by rejecting the patient” to accept him.
I believe in the principle that if somebody does something that from an alien’s point of view, is no big deal, I don’t make an issue of it. To put it another way, if somebody does something for which no one can give a logical, universal criticism, I don’t become annoyed by it. When I am annoyed by something, I try to figure out what specifically bothers me and address it as a problem of mine, not of the other person’s. It’s as simple as that. I wish more people lived by this philosophy rather than blindly following the social norms imposed on them.
Moreover, we’re in a college environment. We supposedly want to learn. Yet, when we hinder people’s speech and actions, sometimes unknowingly, we work against this professed goal. Let me give you an example: one kid upon meeting a suburban girl who had lived in the same town most of her life, said to the girl, “Oh, you must be one of those sheltered ones.” She was very insulted and didn’t talk to him for weeks. My point is that that’s what the kid was thinking, whether he said it or not. As she told him about her life, it occurred to him that perhaps she is sheltered. She could have either learned what he was thinking and possibly come to the conclusion, “This is what other people think when I tell them about my life,” or she could deter him from being as blunt in the future.
I’d argue that some of the most offensive and hurtful, but honest, statements open the door to the best learning available at this College. While writing this very article and having a friend criticize it, I started covering my ears when he read certain parts aloud. In my experience, a lot of people don’t want their work read aloud to them, even if someone reads it to him or herself anyway. Those portions of the paper that can be read aloud may very well hold the most depth.
Ultimately, an atmosphere of saying whatever’s on your mind provides the best arena for learning. College is supposed to teach us, but in some ways it stifles us. Social politics, especially at a small school, can suffocate the learning experience. When people don’t learn about one another properly, they can’t make the best decisions. If one friend likes to lie down while he’s studying but the friend sits in the way, unless there is communication between the two-especially if the second one doesn’t even want to be sitting there-the first won’t be able to lie down while the second one will not be able to get a better seat. Magnified to a larger scale, if there is more communication between people in general, ideally even between people who’ve just met each other, more harmonious outcomes will ultimately prevail.
In the end, I wonder why people spend hours on homework, march to class and sit often still through an hour-and-a-half of lecture, when, with the right attitude, more learning could be done on the way to those activities. I’m not even promoting learning, though: it’s just hypocrisy when we claim to want to learn and then shut down or minimize some of the most valuable avenues of learning.