Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Being considerate

The rain has me inside again - it's been like this for a few days now. I'm not complaining, as I've recently planted some seedlings in the garden which are absolutely loving these conditions.

But I've done a lot of cleaning and I will probably start a new dishcloth today, so I'm left with enough time, to write about something that's been on my mind lately. Consideration. How much consideration do you give any situation you find yourself in?

Two more dishcloths to add to the collection

Funnily enough, I was going to make this post about my working class background (ie: feeling guilty for owning anything indulgent) but it didn't feel quite right somehow. For as much as my attitude towards possessions came through my working class/edge of poverty background, what has been on my mind lately was more than that. It was about weighing up any decision I make, against a scale of understanding.

Now I could have said, moral code, or weighing my decisions against an ethical blueprint. But even that seemed a little dodgy to me. I mean, how do I know it's moral or ethical? Is it because I found the right amount of justification, or a lot of people seem to agree with me? The simple truth is, I can only make decisions, against a scale of understanding I've arrived at to date.

If you're wondering where this is coming from, it all started when we broke our pledge to the no-spend year, by purchasing plants at the nursery recently. There was nothing really sinister about that - we did have the money and it was a wise investment - so why was I feeling so guilty about it?

This led me to consider my working class/edge of poverty background. I say, "edge of poverty", because I was raised by a single parent who worked for a minimum wage, and the government pension for sole parents (back then) wasn't enough to live on. Needless to say, I learned a lot about frugal living from my mum. I also learned a love of gardening too. It didn't matter where we lived, we were always looking for a place to plant something.

So here in lies my dilemma...a love of gardening drew me to purchase the plants recently, but we are attempting to live more frugally for a greater good too. Both ideologies (enjoyment and sacrifice) seemed to clash in one decision. Result...guilt!

Since then, my mind has been occupied with a desperate attempt to locate a "repair patch". Like when your antivirus program realises it's vulnerable to attack, and the kind programmers develop a repair patch to fix it. For without the repair patch, the whole system becomes defunct. And when I mean defunct, we can hardly throw a whole human being into the trash when they start reading "error" messages in their Central Processing Unit, can we?

I hope it doesn't come to that, because I happen to think I'm a very useful model of human and could even become a vintage collectible one day. But I digress, I first needed to address this error in my programming. How do I do that?

Well it leads me to the very title of this entry - being considerate. An act of consideration would allow me to accept, it wasn't weakness on my part for purchasing the plants. It may have been spontaneous and derived from desire - but these are not bad things of themselves. They only become bad when they start overruling every other part of your thinking. I would know it is bad for example, if I wasn't able to pay my bills or meet my responsibilities because of those desires.

What dirty laundry? I'm clean, I tell you!

Still, financial ability, has always hinged on the unpredictable nature of the future too. For example, what if a series of events took all our money away from us - events no-one could have predicted? Does that mean we spend the entire 20 years it takes to pay back the mortgage, never spending for pleasure?

We need to operate under a certain amount of ignorance, dare I say, over-confidence, that the future will be manageable. Even if it's not perfect, it can be managed nonetheless. It doesn't mean only living for desire, or only living to an exact moral code either. It means considering that both ideologies will clash at times, so neither one should rule indefinitely.

For without consideration, what is morality and justice anyway?

Maybe as a society, we have to work harder on encouraging consideration towards others too. Our social dialogue and attraction to opinions about certain kinds of people, doesn't do us any favours sometimes. Perhaps it's not enough to teach people they're wrong and everything they do is wrong. Humans can be great self-regulators, if they're taught how to be accepting of themselves and others. By "great", I guess I mean, moderate, too.

Constantly going from one extreme to another, doesn't allow time for consideration...and that's where we really get our understanding from. Through consideration. Believe me though, it's easier to read about than implement. No one is perfect!

That means, you and me. But it's still worth considering all the same....


  1. Personally I don't consider buying plants to be "spending". Think of them as contributing to an increase of oxygen in the atmosphere.:-)

  2. mmm i agree with Deb, more oxygen please :o)

  3. Love the colours of your new dishcloths:D We have been promised rain here this weekend.....sure...we'll see.

  4. I guess I should breathe easy then, LOL. ;)

    I hope the rain visited you Lucky. Please take some of ours' in Qld. I love those colours of cotton too. I was expecting to find ordinary beige in the shops, but found some lovely colours instead.

    Hope you're all having a great weekend. :)

  5. Chris, this is a great post, much food for thought.
    My dad was a socialist but having to raise a family, he was also a capitalist-a very good one at that. I know he continues to struggle a great deal, even today when he doesn't really care if he is a socialist or whatever anymore. His ideals stemmed from that and were deeply ingrained but reality ran counter to his belief system. He couldn't adjust emotionally and has been miserable.
    What I learned from that is that its okay to have an ideal by which to live by but at the same time, flexibility is important. The ideal is the backbone, nothing more.
    We don't live in stable times. We need to move left, right or center as things unfold for us. Rather than being tossed about in haphazard fashion (emotionally, intellectually, literally), its important to make it a conscious choice. I find this attitude works best for me because I too have deeply rooted ideology that society does not support generally.
    Using my ideology, I would say, spending money on trees that bare fruit is a utilitarian expenditure that happens to give me pleasure but also helps to support my future, the birds and insects and the planet and also helps to save money either today or down the line. In the same way you see your lovely dishclothes, which gave you pleasure: from choosing the yarn, to the act of knitting them, to using them (utilitarian) to helping the environment.
    I could however be more considerate of others. That is an ongoing quest for me. Thanks for the reminder. As always, I enjoy your thought provoking writings.

  6. I can relate to your dad - he sounds like my mum. Although she can feel miserable at times, she's also a fighter and will fight for the brighter side of life too. :)

    I wonder if it was a generational thing? It must've been hard for their generation, making the transition between war and peace, freedom and oppression. They were given so many things to deal with, it's any wonder they developed dual forms of ideologies.

    In some ways our generation is much luckier.

    But yes - consideration - it makes things so much easier, but it's not always easy to navigate. I need reminding just as much as anyone, LOL. ;)

  7. I think it must be a generational thing as you say. I do believe that we grew during times when much of the hard things had passed (little did we know what the future held!). Your post came at a time when I was ready to bite somebodies head off (rightly I think) but I chose to not do that after reading your post. Everything was solved by consideration instead!

  8. Way to go! I'm glad you got to resolving the issue through consideration. I know how hard it is to bight your tongue sometimes, but I keep reminding myself that I'll feel better if I don't "lose it" in the moment, LOL.

    It's quite an art, balancing communication through consideration and I think you did it! Well done. :)

  9. Thank you. It was very hard. But you are correct, it actually felt good:)


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