Risto Juola
Ab absurdo, ad libertatem.
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Self-Abnegation


Jun 27, 2008


"I don't want to say anything, I want to forget about it" he said, his face still red.

"That might be no problem, if it were true" she replied with complete indifference, occasioning a scowl of righteous indignation on his face.

Finally, some time having passed with no response to his scowl, he asked "What do you mean?", making sure to maintain his facial aspect, and moving slightly to the left in the unconscious hope that she would notice his gruesome expression, and acknowledge the effort he put into maintaining it.

"Well, it might be no problem if your boss were suddenly possessed to undertake a journey of self-discovery, to accept his humanity with humility, to begin looking deeper inwards and outwards, to consider the nature of his disposition, and to examine the utility of his every action.

"...

"Then he might be able to interact with you in a spirit of mutual respect and dignity. Of course that would also require you to place less weight on external validation, among other things.

"You make me tired. I just wanted to vent.

"Impossible.

"Apparently.

"Aimless venting is not healthy, it is not productive, and it is not harmless. I refuse to permit it. Every time one vents, they willingly move themselves farther away from logical thought and thus away from reality. Eventually they're so far removed from reality that they become ruled by emotion and find themselves lost in a vague apathy, unable to perform even the most basic of operations without experiencing a shapeless anxiety.

"My venting is not aimless. My boss was a jerk, and I need to talk about it.

"It's aimless because nothing is resolved. Your boss was a jerk, and you complain -- but not to him. As a result, your boss will continue to be a jerk, and his attitude will worsen because his actions have been reinforced by your response. You passively listened as he berated you, you did nothing to stop him, and when he was done you left without asserting yourself and demanding that he treat you with respect. You allowed him to act as an uncontested jerk, and you are now wasting precious time by regurgitating his unresolved anger. Anger is incredibly time consuming. It wastes time that could be spent doing something productive. Wasted time can be avoided by addressing a problem when it occurs, calmly, head on, with no delay. Wouldn't you prefer to be happy right now? Reading a book perhaps? Without having to stop every few sentences to think about revenge?

"Right. So it's my fault that my boss yelled at me today.

"That's not what I've said. You are right to disapprove of your boss' anger. I know it's hard for you to think about this -- let alone accept it -- because you're angry right now, but you need to hear this before your anger dissipates, because it is precisely your anger that you need to recognize and learn to regulate. You are reacting out of anger in exactly the same way that your boss reacted out of anger earlier today. Right now anger is your calculus, and in this case it's making you believe that venting is the best solution. If left uncorrected, you'll become trapped in a self-perpetuating, self-defeating cycle of anger and venting. It's not right that your boss should yell at anyone, and he needs to learn to treat everyone with respect. But: anyone that allows your boss to get away with yelling is partly to blame if he continues to do so, and they are also to blame if they themselves become angry as a result of his yelling.

"HOW could this POSSIBLY be my fault at all.

"You're not the root cause of your boss' anger, but your reactions to his anger only multiply his condition. Consider a teenager who has become a junkie because of his friends. The parents of the junkie know what the junkie is going to do if given ten dollars, but if the parents are weak they will give their child ten dollars anyways. Consequently, both the parents and the child suffer as a result of the parent's weakness; the parents did not create the situation, but they enable the situation to continue. You know that your boss is going to continue to disrespect his employees, but you still let him get away with it, and you both suffer every time it happens; you did not create the situation, but you enable its continuation. In the same way that you should not enable your boss' anger, I will not enable yours. You work at that company by choice, and thus you work with your boss by choice. You have to take responsibility for the interactions you choose.

"So if my boss stabs me then I should go to jail.

"If your boss gives you even the remotest indication that he has such an inclination then you have to get away from him immediately. If he gives you no such indication, and he still does it, then there's nothing that you could have done to prevent it.

"Life isn't as easy as that.

"Life is exactly as easy as that. Logic is black and white. Venting is gray and shapeless.

"Life isn't just logic.

"It is if you accept reality. 'The book of nature is written in mathematics.' Everything you do is a choice. You may not understand the reasons you make a choice, but every choice you make is based on the state of your logical apparatus at that moment. I know this can be hard to accept, because we've been socialized to view life as an insoluble mystery, but I know you understand what I'm talking about. Society burdens us with an illogical sort of romanticism, and this diminishes our logical abilities, rendering our ideas and conclusions incongruous and indistinct. We become frustrated by our inability to define, and resort to counterproductive measures such as venting. The situation here is clear and definite: by allowing this to pass, by not talking to your boss about this, you're enabling him. What he needs is to be empowered, and to be shown that he has no need to suffer from low self-esteem. If you continue to work there, you need to discuss this with him openly, respectfully, and logically. Helping him to change will require effort and patience, but it is not an impossible task.

"... Or I can just ignore everything he says.

"I would never allow that.

"Why?

"Is that the kind of person you want to become? Willfully ignorant? Willful ignorance is the most profound form of intellectual treason that man can commit. Why have a mind, if you actively choose to ignore it? See now where this angry calculus has led. Your solution is the denial of existence itself!


Part of the series: Cerularius