Bullshit!

<Jan. 19/10>

Yikes! Hard to know where to begin with this one, hmm? There’s so darn much bullshit (B.S.) on the planet, we’re practically drowning in the stuff…

I was relating to a friend of mine the other night my concept of the BQ – the Bullshit Quotient. I came up with this idea in a corporate environment I worked in some years ago (actually, the only corporate environment in which I’ve ever worked, & maybe there’s some connection between my articulation of the BQ & my very short corporate “career,” but let’s leave that for another day, shall we?)

Barb & I had a pretty good laugh about “The BQ,” & about the whole idea of bullshit. We even came up with a concept for a very not chicken-soup-for-the-soul kind of book which, we decided, would be very un-circumspect, & I said something very rude about circumspect-ness, since I am fatally tired of being circumspect (although anyone reading this who knows me at all well is saying “Janet? Circumspect?!@?^? Not...).

Well.

24 hours later, crazily enough, didn’t my daughter hand me the gift of a teeny-tiny book called On Bullshit (by Harry G. Frankfurt, “renowned moral philosopher” & Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton, no less) that opens up with these lines:

“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry.

In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves.”(1)

And so on.

Quelle coincidence!!

This morning, an amusing & wonderful thought occurred to me: Wouldn’t it be grand if, when confronted with one instance or another of bullshit (our society/culture/civilization (using the term rather loosely) & working lives/personal lives are just plain chockfull of it, are they not??), we just said firmly & clearly,

“Bullshit!!”

And developed a zero tolerance policy for the stuff.

Goodness me, isn’t this a marvelous idea??

You see, another thought I’d come up with this morning – with respect to relationships & how they work (& more importantly how they often falter) is that, like compost (always a fertile metaphor), relationships need aerating. They need air. Air & space & opening.

Appreciation, acceptance & apologies are, to my way of thinking, excellent, awesome, necessary methods of keeping relationships aerated.

Without acceptance, appreciation & occasional apologies, our relations with people can grow stale & dark, cramped & dull. Maybe even hostile.

And maybe, just maybe, if we all instituted a zero tolerance policy toward bullshit, & started calling out “Bullshit!” every time we encountered some (or “Bullshit Alert!!” or even “Modam [said in a very snooty British tone], I am vedy vedy sorry, but the BQ has already been exceeded here today,” we could transform our relationships – & our society – and surely to goodness, wouldn’t that be a wonderfully welcome development?

Okay, okay, I know. Silly old me. But you have to admit, it is a rather fun idea, isn’t it?

Janet

'Quote of the day' with this post: “Why should we all use our creative power? … Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” ~ Brenda Ueland (American writer, 1891-1985)

p.s. 2 years + later: Friend has told me about a book called Your Call Is Important to Us - The Truth About Bullshit, by Laura Penny. Published 2005. Sounds like one to check out!!

 


(1) Frankfurt’s essay, btw, was originally published in the Raritan Review. Most of it is a little dry & overly philosophical for my taste, but it sure does open up in a hilarious, slam-dunk kind of way!!