Growth, SLO-Town & My Academic Adventure, Thoughts

The Goodness of Man, Cookies and Flirting

I feel dazed with a lesson that I just realized… maybe not “realized” but simply came to accept as a possible truth. I hope to shed more light on this matter as the semester continues, but allow me to explain.

I’ve always thought myself to be an eternal optimist. Really, I’ve always believed in the goodness of man, and I’ve always believed in myself. By that I mean I always try to do the right thing. I’ve always stuck up for the kid being bullied, said something when I didn’t feel something was right, spoken up when morally or ethically I sensed something was wrong… and in the case of my mental distress right now, I’m not questioning my own goodness as much as I am the goodness of humans.

In English we’re reading about and discussing this matter through the book “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” by Flannery O’Connor. Through her fictional short stories she challenge people like me (who think man is inherently good) by trying to prove that man is, in-fact, inherently bad. I realize her stories are made-up, but even so. The discussions in class have prompted my thoughts that maybe man isn’t ever to be fully, if at all, trusted (Note: when I say “man” I mean humans, collectively.)

So this morning in sociology we watched a documentary about the Stanford Prison Experiment in which a group of normal, healthy college males were randomly divided up and placed in specific roles in a mock prison setting. Eventually, all of these smart, good-natured boys totally lost sight of the fact that they were in an experiment. They forgot that they’re not actually a prison guard or a prisoner and each boy took on their role; the guards became extremely cruel and phycologically abusive, and the prisoners became hopeless and totally obedient. The experiment was meant to continue for 2 weeks but had to be stopped after 6 days because it got way to serious and the situation was much too intense for anyone involved. I could go on about the terrible details, about how no visitors reminded the group that it was an experiment. No one said anything about what they were doing may have, perhaps, been all too real.

So today I feel overwhelmed with this terrible thought: if prompted or forced to do so, humans turn into selfish, timid, lonely, pathetic beings. But are we inherently bad? Or can I still take comfort in the idea that our mental state depends directly on our present environment and the role that we take in that environment. If we keep these things positive, good may prevail. A few people slip through the cracks, and it’s usually not their fault. If you tell a child he or she is bad, they’ll believe it and in many cases, they’ll believe it their whole life. So maybe if every child is sweetly loved, the world will thrive in beauty? I just really don’t know.

If I can predict my resulting thought after contemplation on the matter it would be that I remain, forever, an optimist. That if all the world became a dog-eat-dog fight, and if evil prevailed, I would be the last one to stand up to speak my mind and shed positive light. Even if I didn’t succeed, I would have died being inherently good-natured and I would’ve proved that not all people are deeply, disguisingly bad.

Last night I cooked a big dinner for my roommates, the boys across-the-way, Eva and Ken. It was delicious: Teryaki chicken, veggie lasagne, salad, garlic bread and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. I did it all single handedly, the cooking that is. Eva drove me to the store to pick up what I needed. But we’re going switch off dinner night and make a weekly tradition out of it. It was fun! And right now I’m totally loving my life.

On Flirting:

1. Flirting is good for you. Studies show that people who flirt have higher white blood-cell counts, which boost their immunity and keep them healthy.2. Think it ends at a little eye batting? Hardly—all told, scientists say there are 52 “flirting signals” used by humans. Of these, the hair flip is the most common.

3. In some places, flirting is illegal. In Little Rock, AR, an antiquated law is still on the books warning that engaging in playful banter may result in a 30-day jail term. In New York City, another outdated law mandates that men may be fined $25 for gazing lasciviously at a female; a second conviction stipulates the offender wear a pair of blinders whenever he goes out for a walk.

5. Flirting need not occur face to face. According to Pew Research, 40 percent of people who look for love online say they can easily flirt with someone via email or IM.6. In the Victorian era, fans were the ultimate playful prop that could communicate all sorts of messages. A fan placed near the heart meant, You have won my love. A half-opened fan pressed to the lips suggested, You may kiss me. Hiding the eyes behind an open fan meant, I love you, while opening and closing the fan several times warned, You are cruel. Given how much a fan could come in handy, it’s a shame they ever invented air conditioning.

7. These days, cell phones do the flirting. In one survey, half of all mobile phone users have texted suggestive messages to keep things interesting while away from their amour.

8. Watch out, you can overdo it. According to the Social Issues Research Centre, the most common mistake people make when flirting is maintaining too much eye contact.

9. Sometimes, flirty gestures aren’t what they seem. Research has shown that men tend to routinely mistake friendly behavior for flirting.

10. Flirting is universal. A woman living in New York City and one in rural Cambodia may not have much in common, but when it comes to attracting a little attention, they both employ the very same move: smiling, arching their eyebrows, then averting their gaze and giggling. Animals flirt, too: Birds, reptiles, and even fish have their own way of strutting their stuff. Moral of the story: If the simple sea bass can act cute to enhance a romantic agenda, you can, too—so give it a go!

By Laura Schaefer, MSN


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