The Virtue of Silence, Part I

The Art of Manliness’ original post lists three (although the post itself says four) areas where men (although the virtue of silence applies to both men AND women) can apply the virtue of silence.  Instead of going at it all in one go, I’m going to break down my take on it into smaller parts, starting with the three areas listed in the original post.

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On the virtue of silence, the Art of Manliness lists three specific areas of application.  The Cell Phone, Customer Service and The Internet.  Today I’m going to focus on the first area – The Cell Phone.

“Much of our conversations now take place over the ever ubiquitous cell phone. Just as World War I was especially bloody because the technology in artillery had progressed faster than the development of new military tactics, so too cell phone usage is an unmannered minefield because cell phone etiquette has not kept pace with growth. But cell phone etiquette is an excellent way to show you are a well-mannered gent. Here are some rules to obey:

1. Don’t talk on your cell phone when you have a captive audience.

Remember in high school when you and your friends drove around yelling and laughing and blasting your music? You thought you were the coolest people to ever exist. Then when you reached your 20′s, you saw those same high schoolers and thought “what a bunch of jackasses.” Things always seem far more acceptable when you are the one doing it. This must be why people have loud and obnoxious conversations despite the fact that other people are trapped in proximity to them. Just remember when you are tempted to do this: you’ve seen that guy; don’t be that guy.

> I think it’s doubly irritating when you can also hear the voice on the OTHER end of the phone as well as the…individual…who’s inconsiderate enough to be loud enough for everyone else to hear.  Have any of you ever NOT experienced that?

2. Don’t talk or answer your cell phone while talking to ANYONE in person.

Don’t answer your phone while holding a conversation with an actual human being. There are no exceptions to this rule. Think about it: if you were at a party conversing with a friend, and someone else walked up, would you immediately cut off the conversation with the first friend and abruptly turn your attention to the new person? Well maybe you would, but you’re probably a tool.

> The only exception to this one that I can think of is two employees interrupting their conversation so that one of them can help a customer who needs assistance.  In general, though, the rule stands.

3. Don’t use your phone in any place in which people expect a certain atmosphere.

There are certain situations in which people expect a respectful quiet to prevail. A cell phone should not burst this bubble of ambience. Thus, you should never use your cell phone at funerals, weddings, classes, church services, movies, plays, museums, etc. By even allowing your cell phone to ring, never mind speaking into it, you announce to the world that your conversation is more important that the ruminations of everyone else in the room. It is the height of arrogance. People will protest that their calls are very important. To which I say, what did people do in the 90′s?? For that matter, what did people do for almost the entirety of human existence? Somehow our ancestors kept on living. You will too.”

> I can think of a few more places/instances where you should not answer your cell phone: at a restaurant with anyone: the dinner table; and of course..A PUBLIC (OR PRIVATE) RESTROOM!  Seriously, isn’t it distasteful enough to have to listen to a one-sided conversation while you’re trying to do a #1 or #2, let alone actually BE the person on the other side of that conversation?  Fortunately, I’ve only had to listen to that kind of conversation.

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It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. ~ Mark Twain

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Trying to understand Unconditional Love

I know it’s been a real long time since I’ve posted.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately on what it means to love another person and wondering how to describe or even understand how someone could love us when we know all the crap we’ve done and could very well do again.

I had a similar conversation recently with a close friend of mine.  He’s in a relationship, I’m currently single, and our conversations either start with or get around to the topic of me and dating (or the lack thereof).  Some time ago, at his suggestion, I created an account on a dating website – the same one he used to meet his girlfriend.  Our recent conversation involved my lack of dates (or even messaging on the site), and I asked him how he could be so positive and supportive for me when I had difficulty feeling the same way about myself.  He didn’t really have an answer.  Instead, he reminded me to keep positive and that it will happen for me just as it did for him, even though it might take a long time.

I’m usually that way about myself and others.  I don’t have any problems being positive and optimistic when it comes to supporting my friends, but when it comes to feeling the same way and believing in myself the same way, I fall woefully short.  I don’t understand how it is I’m able to be that way for others but not myself, or vice versa (people being positive, etc, for me).

There’s a song by The Choir called “To Cover You” that describes what it is I’m trying to understand; what I’m trying to get a better sense of.  Have a listen, and maybe you’ll have a better idea of what I’m getting at.

Thinking about Temperance

I’ve been thinking about temperance lately and trying to figure out different ways I can implement it into my everyday life.  When I decided to emulate the virtues that Benjamin Franklin is said to have lived by, my first thought in regards to temperance was food, and the consumption of food.

Eating food isn’t bad.  It’s necessary.  But sometimes we’ll sit down to a meal that tastes so good that we can’t help but go for a second or third helping.  Have you ever sat back after a meal and thought that your eyes were bigger than your stomach?  If you have, you know where I’m going with this.  One of my biggest weaknesses when it comes to eating is Chinese food.  I think it’s great, but I have the hardest time ordering “just enough.”  There’s a number of dishes I want to get each time, but there’s no way I could all of them by myself.  The various chicken dishes alone are enough to make me stare at the menu for 10 minutes.

About once a week, my mom makes pizza.  She’s done it for almost 20 years (to my memory) and gotten very good at it.  Depending on who’s present for dinner, sometimes I’ll be hard pressed to limit myself to a certain number of slices.  “It’s so good, though.  C’mon, just one more slice.”  That’s what I’ll tell myself at least once.

I don’t have a magical formula, or a series of steps to take in order to not eat too much.  I know that gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins.  I’m not saying that it’s not okay to have a second helping of a good meal.  By all means, if you like what you’re eating, then have another plate or bowl.  Everyone needs to know what their limits are, though, and not cross them.  Know where your weaknesses are, and watch your step around them.  Take things slowly if you have to.  Let someone know what you have trouble with so you have someone to be accountable to.

I don’t always have a second helping of something, even if there’s a half plate/bowl-full left.  At times like that, it’s more about getting into the practice of not eating too much than making sure there’s no leftovers or having more just because it’s there.  Sometimes someone will comment on that, but I’ll just say something along the lines of “No, I’m good” or “I’ve had enough.”

Hopefully I’ll do better the next time my eyes are bigger than my stomach.