A (tiny) little perspective

On his podcast, Joe Rogan frequently says that when he first had children, he started to realize that everyone was once a baby. If someone is being an asshole, he just pictures them as that baby and he doesn't feel bad anymore.

That view hit home for me the first time I pulled Marlena's socks out of the dryer, before she joined our family.

Look, this kid is great. She eats for something around 3-3.5 hours a day (we know because we track that). We probably spend 30 minutes changing her diapers and another hour or so cooing over her. She sleeps the rest of the time.

I realize that will change.

And when it changes, it's my job to give her the best tools I can to help her find her way in this world. She'll make it up as she goes along. I'll screw up some. After all, I'm just using whatever I've learned to make it up as I go along, just as my parents are still using what they've learned to make it up as they go along, and their parents before them and so on.

The "rules" we've come up with for living "properly" are just a series of pattern recognitions. Some of them are pretty good — don't kill, don't steal, don't do unto others what you'd rather not have done to you. Some of them are questionable — think about the absolutes of faith (I'm looking at you, Catholic Church) or the push to get into a "good college" (which right now will send you into a spiraling debt for decades). Some of them are a load of horse shit. Most of those are on their way out — pink for girls, blue for boys; girls like English, boys like math; that sort of thing.

The 'rules' we've come up with for living 'properly' are just a series of pattern recognitions. Some are pretty good, some are questionable, and some are a load of horse shit. #betterhumanhood Click To Tweet

The biggest tool I can give her, I think, is perspective. She doesn't need to be empathetic, per se (I'll address that in a future post), but to succeed and thrive, she does have to be able to put things in perspective.

To a dog, everything is forever. If you've ever left the dog at home and returned five minutes later to get something you forgot, you'll get the same welcome home you would get as if you were gone a full work day.

This is the same for a two-year-old. If you're angry at her, she thinks you'll always be angry at her. When you're happy and celebrating with her, it's like the anger never happened.

Neither has much in the way of perspective.

When you tell me about the migrant caravan and complain about the people trying to come in from South America, I ask you to step back and recognize that when my great-grandparents came over from Ukraine just ahead of the Russian revolution, they were refugees who, as Jews, were considered non-white. Both my grandfathers went to war for and started businesses in the country their parents came to as refugees. They and their children went on to spawn educators, engineers, medical professionals and other solid citizens and professionals.

Did some criminals come over in the same group as my great-grandparents? Probably. Did some of the otherwise good people in that arrival have kids who turned out to be criminals? Probably.

You have no way to know whose great-grandkids are going to be dentists and whose are going to be drug dealers. For sure, if everyone had to go back to Ukraine, they'd all be dead. Maybe one of them would have survived both the revolution and the Holocaust. Probably not — that's a pretty small group. Most of the people who are trying to get into the U.S.? They're likely to be killed back in Honduras. You don't get the drug dealers, but you also don't get the dentists and the nurses and the engineers and the teachers.

At what point do you throw out the baby with the bath water?

And that's just a long way to say, take some perspective. You don't have to agree with the other view, but understand where it comes from. It's a good way to steel-man your opinions.

You can straw-man arguments all you want. That's when you take the weakest possible case of the opposing view and set your opinion against that. To steel-man the argument would be to take the strongest possible case of the opposing view and still hold the belief that you hold.

That's what I believe I owe my daughter, and the world.


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