Sunday, November 9, 2014

Halberstam on the Ethics of Calling People Out

"Imagine a world where your behavior is never evaluated:  no one ever praises you, no one ever criticizes you.  Whenever you do something wrong, people say, 'Ah, you know how she is, you can't really blame her.  If you knew about her upbringing, you'd understand.'  Most people hate to be excused in that dismissive manner.  We want people to hold us responsible for what we do, even if that means ticking them off.  We would much prefer to have people angry with us than have them pity us.
     Strangely, when it comes to criticizing others, we suddenly become very 'understanding' and refuse to pronounce judgment.  We can be amazingly inventive in thinking up excuses to exonerate others' trespasses.  Sometimes we turn sociologist and blame the system, the economy, or the culture.  Sometimes we become psychologists and point to mitigating factors like stress and insecurities.  Excusing others makes us feel magnanimous and compassionate.  These are undeserved emotions, however, for what we're really doing is condescending to people and showing them lack of respect," pg. 126 of Everyday Ethics by Joshua Halberstam.



  1. And yet you do not understand what I am doing with you.....