Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Women who won't sit facing backwards on the train

You meet a lot of women, and even a few men, who think that making a fuss about sitting facing backwards on the train is a reasonable thing to do.

If you challenge them, they won't even try to pretend that their position is reasonable (because it isn't) but neither will they waver. The final authority is their feelings. They will admit the arguments for why they should get over it but will insist that they just don't feel comfortable. And that is where the reasonable person (meaning you) gives up.

But here's the thing: it's easy to get over the feelings of discomfort. You just force yourself to do it and the feeling of discomfort goes away—we all train ourselves to get used to far more difficult things. You know this and you know that she also knows (or should know) and that is why it irritates you when she makes a fuss. In the end, though, it's just another discomfort to put up with so ypu give in.

But do you make a judgment about her? I think men generally don't consciously reach judgments about women in our lives at moments like this and I think we should. Judge but don't condemn. Notice it and add it to your file on her.

What this tells you is that she is scared of being out of control but, rather than directly confronting this problem, she likes to play little games that allow her to maintain the illusion of being in control even when she isn't. And now, having established the principle, it's a matter of determining degree. How much of this sort of game-playing does she indulge in? In the long run, that is a far more important consideration than how hot her body is.

Of course, there is also the beam in our own eye. I also play games rather than accept that I can't control what life is going to throw at me. And yes, I should do something about it. But, if I do, that not only entitles me to make judgments about others, it obliges me to because that is what it takes to love others as yourself.

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