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123 How keeping calm creates a clear benefit [2 Jul 2021]

Looking upward

In article 120 I considered a professor's possible disgust with my stupid questions by comparing the setting to diaper changing. I went on to explain that ultimately I felt accepted, never considered unworthy for having once been ignorant. My professors did not teach with disgust.

It has occurred to me that doctors could conceivably feel disgust at the medical conditions that are presented to them. Happily, I do not know of a doctor who has condemned or be belittled a patient for being sick. Instead, the doctor sets about applying professional skill and doing what is called for in each situation. This even applies in cases where the patient presents with a certain amount of guilt -- for example, having been a heavy smoker. Reprimanding the bad behavior is not the most constructive way to build a healing mindset.

We enjoy these stories as we identify with the party who has been helped. We think how nice it is for the student or the patient to be allowed to make progress and rise to a higher level of education or health. I am frequently the beneficiary of both kinds of assistance. I get used to seeing the interaction from the viewpoint of the person who visibly grows in the exchange.

Looking downward

After I viewed the situations from the position of the person being helped, my attention shifted to the other side of the interaction. I was suddenly looking from the perspective of a person who is trying to be the source of a benefit, that is, trying to help someone else up to a new level. Then the other direction occurred to me: if I cannot have genuine, nonjudgmental love for the recovering party, I have no business being the doctor.

If I answer your question with a superior tone, am I communicating a certain level of disgust? Does it belittle you if I imply that you were deficient without the information that I am qualified to give? If I make you feel terrible, am I inconsistent with being a long-suffering professor or a dedicated doctor? By insisting that I am far ahead of you, am I impeding your ability to learn?

The first perspective above is the student appreciating the wisdom of the teacher, the skill of the doctor. The second perspective is the teacher respecting the student and the doctor acknowledging the patient without condemnation. Both viewpoints establish a successful atmosphere for learning and healing. Any spirit of opposition or contradiction poisons the exchange and the attempt to be helpful gains no traction. The intended benefit depends on effective delivery. Without that, there is serious potential of doing harm instead.

Objective superiority

Previously we discussed the concept that disputing parties inherently claim rightness. It required external comparison to credit one side more than the other (article 122). Between the two parties, they were equal. In today's discussion, there is a clear value to be passed from one side to the other. The professor and the doctor have benefits to bestow. The direction of the transmission is objectively clear.

Therefore, today's article is not the customary challenge to overcome self and get into the mind of the other party. That recurring discussion refers to respect among equals. Now I am examining positions of superiority and inferiority. The participants are not equal parties. Abundant evidence makes it clear who should contribute to whom.

Which side is which

Now let us go back to the conflict at Thanksgiving dinner that opened article 121. We pick up the thread shortly after the explosion happens. The insensitive offending party has made a clear cry for help. We consider here how you, as the tolerant party, can contribute a needed benefit. Once you perceive that the other party is in pain, you are in the role of the doctor.

To help you treat the patient well, I opened today's article from that dependent perspective. The first picture was the relief that a successful patient experiences. The contrasting picture was the duty that attaches to the doctor. If you lack "genuine, nonjudgmental love for the other party," you are not the right doctor. Indeed, defensive recoil would make you a fellow patient, engaged in an argument between equals. On the other hand, genuine superiority infuses the calm that effects healing.

Clear benefit

A doctor is grounded in solid learning, not constantly agitated by that which is wrong. This confidence is not ruffled by challenges. Likewise, a parent inspires confidence by not being drawn into the child's tantrum. A peacemaker de-escalates a name-calling contest by demonstrating proper decorum, effective self-control. It is easy to see who is riding out a storm successfully and is qualified to be the attending peacemaker.

I am appealing to the do-gooders' hope to improve the world. Of course, you have the vision of the good you do by alleviating conflict and replacing violence. I applaud your effectiveness in dealing positively with societal tensions. You are bestowing the benefit dispensed by the good doctor.

Despite your contribution, the problem under discussion might go on. There are still faults in the world. After the best of feelings emerge, there is still work to do implementing new ideas. Long-term improvement is just that: long-term. Even so, you have already improved something by taking on the healing mantle. The immediate environment is less upset than it was. Being trusted, you have set the stage for constructive dialog. It doesn't take much goodwill to point to a new direction. You have blessed others with dignity instead of disgust.

My additional, closing motivational statement is this: in practicing your healing art, you are the one who lives and deeply experiences happiness. Yours is the lasting clear benefit.

Thought question

Has this discussion broadened your appreciation of the golden rule? Goodness is reflexive-it bounces back to you.

Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

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