I’ve had a lot of time to think over the last eight weeks of quarantining. I’ve had many philosophical discussions in my head, and some I’ve brought alive with my parents. I thought I’d share those thoughts/questions with you, my readers, to see where your mind is currently residing.
Adele, the famous British singer, has lost a lot of weight and is primarily being praised for it. She wasn’t praised earlier in her life when she gained weight. Why the typical praise for being skinny? What kind of message does it send to the children and to the community as a whole? The lesson I think we should learn is to not praise someone for their looks. Praise them for their kindness, for their intelligence, for their good deeds, and for so many other important qualities. Looks are from Hashem and are a given. Other character traits must be worked on. I think this pandemic has really brought out the best in many people.
What about using Facebook and playing computer games while on company time? Is this a no-no? Is it OK as long as you get your work done? Lawyers are a good example because they get paid by billable hours. So is it “cheating” to spend a few minutes of an hour talking to your friend by phone? I think many workers take some time to themselves. Should they get less pay? Be fired?
What about taking office supplies from your company to use at home? I used to visit my dad at his office and would take pencils and paper. Looking back, was that stealing?
“In a recent anonymous survey by Papermate as part of the launch of a new pen, 100 percent of office workers admitted to having stolen a pen at work. Other academic researchers have reported that up to 75 percent of employees admitted to stealing office supplies in the past year.” (“This is why everyone steals office supplies from work — including you,” Yannick Griep, theconversation.com)
What about white lies? This is a huge conundrum. Sometimes white lies save a person from embarrassment. But it’s still not telling the truth. What if a friend is going online to present a paper to a professor? This friend asks you if she looks good. You think she should dress up more for appearing in front of a professor. Do you tell your friend this? Do you tell her she should change clothing or that she has a bad pimple on her face, when there’s nothing she can do about it? Maybe by telling them the truth, that they should change, this will increase their anxiety.
“White lies often come from a harmless — even kindhearted — place. You might tell a friend you love their outfit, even though it’s not your favorite. And you will definitely tell your significant other dinner was delicious, despite it being quite the opposite. See what I mean? In these situations, a little lie is polite, right, and just what the person needs to hear.
“Be careful, though, since lying can quickly get out of control. Tell the wrong kind of lie, or too many, and you’ll have quite the tangled web on your hands. That’s why the truth is the best option 99.9 percent of the time. ‘In my book, honesty is always the best policy and relieves the burden of carrying that weight all together,’’ says Life-Well’s Dr. Michele Barton, in an e-mail to Bustle (“11 Times When It’s OK to Tell a White Lie,” Carolyn Steber, Bustle.com).
What about parents who do homework for their children? Instead of cultivating patience where the parent(s) can teach the child in a way that the child can learn, often parents find it easier to do the homework for their children, where the children aren’t learning anything.
“It is counterintuitive to support someone by controlling circumstance, because it only makes things worse. Kids are kids; they are going to make mistakes and color outside the lines. They will argue about doing homework and wait until the last possible second before telling you when it’s due, but the bottom line is that it’s their responsibility to get it done right. I understand the desire to help a child succeed, but giving them the answers is not victory — it’s sad” (“To the Parents Who Do Their Kids’ Homework,” Lisa René LeClair, scarymommy.com).
Below are several philosophical questions that are interesting to talk about while you are all quarantining.
- Is it better to love or be loved?
- Is it more important to be respected or liked?
- Can life be meaningful without friends?
- How do you know if you love someone enough to marry that person?
- Why do we do things we do not like to do?
- If judgement is for G-d, why do we pass judgement?
- Do guns protect people or kill people?
- Is true beauty subjective or objective?
Regarding the first question, Stephen Joseph, Ph.D., of Psychology Today says, “In an ideal world we would love and be loved in equal measure. Unfortunately, we often love someone who doesn’t love us as much and in the same way in return. It can be a heartbreaking experience. They may reject us, or it may develop into an unequal relationship where one person holds the power” (Is it Better to Love or Be Loved? Psychology Today).
There are many other topics of discussion that you can all be a part of. Why are towels dirty when you get out of the shower clean? Or, if you drop soap on the floor, is the soap dirty or the floor clean?
If you’re fidgety, bored, or on edge, think about the questions I’ve raised. Discuss them with your family. If you’re alone, perhaps start a Facebook group. It’ll keep your mind active and give you something to think about.
I hope soon we can ask these questions in a coffee shop, a few of us at a table together. Until then, let’s follow the rules as best we can. Looking forward to hopefully hearing that discussing philosophical questions has made your day pass a little faster and kept your mind much more active.
Stay safe, dear readers. Till next time!
Michele Herenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.