I have a problem of being too quiet during class discussions. I can’t ever find my break into one, though I’m aware all I need to do is raise my hand. A year ago in community college I told myself to not be so quiet during discussions, because I know I always have something to say, but I’ve convinced myself by now it’s all the cause of thinking I’ve had no worth in my opinion, or wanting to be too much of a sponge absorbing what all my peers want to say, thinking of myself as being in some sort of outside perspective, simply watching, and not being a quick enough thinker. I’ve been having some ideas as to what I can do about this, but those ideas I still need to flesh out internally.
In my ethics class there was a thought experiment that came up, in a lecture promoting virtue ethics, that went something like this:
- Imagine your best friend has just died, you’re at their funeral with two friends, a utilitarian and a kantian. You’re grief stricken, crying, inconsolable.
- Utilitarian friend offers a pill that promises to wipe out the grief. You’ll still remember the friend, but you won’t feel any pain at their death ever again.
- Kantian friend considers the categorical imperative and gives a thumbs up. Taking the pill doesn’t use anyone as a mere means and can be universalized.
- Would you take the pill?
I know this would require a lot of supplementary info for one who doesn’t know much about these ideas, but cutting that out would still show the basic problem, and I’m not knowledgeable in all this to try, so on to the question..
There were a lot of people in the discussion that brought up interesting points to the question, like they’d be considerate of their friend in various ways, like maybe they had a feeling their friend would or would not have wanted people to grieve for them at their funeral, maybe there was some kind of will they wanted respected, maybe the manner in which they died would point to the appropriateness of the mourning.
People were looking for external factors to base their grief upon, but after thinking it through I’ve found out my response, much thanks to the discussion. The focus on whether we grieve or not is not dependent on the outside factors, but rather on the inside factors.
I don’t think any of those things matter, in whether or not I should grieve for my best friend at their funeral. We have to consider what kind of person we would be to our best friend if we did grieve for them, if we didn’t grieve for them. A person would grieve as much as they need to for their best friend; to erase the grief would erase a part of what the best friend meant to us. That reflection would show to those other two friends at the funeral, though I know their interpretation of the grief would be different. I think of how this could build us as a character to mourn for our best friends. Hopefully it wouldn’t need to last long once we’re allowed to let the rest of the factors, the external ones, come into play.
So I wouldn’t take the pill. I’d want myself and the world to know how much it meant to me to lose someone I love as much as the grief can show.
One of my core beliefs is the idea that the love we are willing to share with the world can be a direct reflection of the pain we went through. The pain could be devastating experiences, and/or simply the realization that at face value there’s a lot of shitty things going on in the world, and those shitty things want precedence. An openly loving person knows what is at stake, puts much of their love on the line, knowing it can all go to waste. The risk is worth it, more than keeping what love one has to themselves, hiding it, reserving it for a limited amount of people. As valuable as that love can be, it can be more easily robbed. It would serve them well for it to be robbed, to feel that pain, and then we would notice how much love they really had. I think my flowery language might seem too flowery for people, and I notice that, but oh well it’s just my belief.
Love reflects inner pain, pain reflects inner love. It’s equally reciprocal. That’s the point I’m trying to make.. sheesh that did a better job than the previous paragraph hah..