Tuesday, 21 August 2007


God's Debris now turns to some general social advice. Once again there is a bit in this chapter, so I am just going to skim over it.

Any person you meet at a party will be interested in his own life above all other topics. Your awkward silences can be solved by asking simple questions about the person’s life. (page 107)

I think it is true that people like to talk about themselves and their interests (it wouldn't be their interests if they didn't find the activity interesting). When I was going to uni and in my first semester (I didn't have a car at the time) I would catch the train a bit, I found that you could easily get someone to talk to you, just by asking them questions about them self. Once or twice I was actually worried as to how much some people told me as I was a complete stranger to them.

When it comes to disagreements the old man says:

Two people have different information, but they think the root of their disagreement is that the other person has bad judgment or bad manners or bad values. In fact, most people would share your opinions if they had the same information. (page 109)

This I think this is a little misguided. It assumes that everyone thinks the same in the same way. But people come at things from all different angles. Some people hold some values more important than others for no other reason than "just because" (which I think means something like "just because I think I know better"). If the above quote was true then surly we could end all parliament debates or even wars if we just had a good communicator to explain things for us. I bet even if we did have someone telling us the good and correct information we still would be sceptical of them and their agenda. People would question and disagree with them "just because".

Some more advice is given:

You should lie about your talents and accomplishments, describing your victories in dismissive terms as if they were the result of luck. And you should exaggerate your flaws. (page 113)

I just don't see how this fits in with living in God's will which was previously defined as loving and respecting other people (see last post). I would think that if you love and/or respected someone you would tell them the truth. Maybe the old man doesn't want to (or can't) live in his own definition of God's will.

At the end of this chapter it has a quick summary of some general good advice which I do agree with, but admitting do not always follow. It is interesting that we when read something like this, there is something inside of us that does say "yea, that would be a good thing to do".

Express gratitude. Give more than is expected. Speak optimistically. Touch people. Remember names. Don’t confuse flexibility with weakness. Don’t judge people by their mistakes; rather, judge them by how they respond to their mistakes. Remember that your physical appearance is for the benefit of others. Attend to your own basic needs first; otherwise you will not be useful to anyone else. (page 114)

It's funny how we can sometimes discern what "good" advice is and sometimes we will disagree with others based off their fundamental understanding of something or even "just because".


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