December 17, 2010 – Writing/Thinking Exercise

What was I saying a couple of weeks ago about writing on here regularly again?  Work has continued to be busy, I’ve been busy doing a lot of other things, and when I have time, I work on my second book a little.  And just because I’m a perfectionist, I’ve made a few more small changes to my first book.  I swear, I can’t read through it without tweaking a few things here and there.  It’s a compulsion!

One of the podcasts I’m listening to proposed an interesting exercise, and I thought I’d pass it along as a writing/thinking assignment.    How do you define the following words? 

Love
Truth
Justice or Fairness
Faith
Courage
Right
Wrong
Peace
God

It’s not as easy a task as you might think at first glance.  They’re all words English speakers know, and we often use or think about at least one of them everyday.  And yet do we know, concretely, what we mean by them, or are they sort of nebulous things, more feelings than words?  But should “truth” be something that’s undefined, or that changes depending on a situation? 

Another thing this lecture pointed out is that we see actions as “me, you and him.”  When we do something wrong, for instance, we typically find some way to downplay the wrongness of it until it’s practically not wrong at all.  When someone we are close to does the same thing, we usually admit that it’s wrong, but we excuse it.  When a stranger does the same thing, though, it’s clearly wrong and we’re dead-set against it.

For example, when people hear divorce statistics, they frequently fuss about how people can’t commit anymore, they’re just playing at being married, immature, etc.  When you hear that a friend is getting divorced, you may say, “Well, I wouldn’t get divorced over something so petty, but I can sort of see why that would matter to him/her.”  But when you’re the one getting divorced, you know, without a doubt, that there’s no way to avoid it and that it really, truly has come to this.  We always have the most sympthay for ourselves, some for our friends, and frequently none at all for strangers. 

So bear that in mind as you attempt to define these words; make sure that you give a definition that you live by and you expect others to live by as well.  None of them should be nebulous; there shouldn’t be one truth for you and one for others. 

As a note, these definitions are what you, personally, believe; everyone will have different answers.  Don’t Google these words looking for a dictionary definition or someone else’s opinion.  With no more than you know now, define them. 

And then I suggest you save your answers and then look at them again, say once a year, and see if there’s anything you would change or add.  In fact, if you don’t tweak at least one definition a little after a year, that’s probably a pretty good sign that you haven’t grown intellectually, spiritually or morally over the past year.  Typically, the more we see of life, the more the definition of those words change (usually broadening, but sometimes not).  For instance, a 6 year old’s definition of love is different from that of a 16-year-old, than a single adult, than a married adult, than a divorced adult, than a parent, than an elderly person.  So these definitions should change, at least a little bit, as you do.   

Feel free to put your definitions in the comments.  Again, there’s no right or wrong answer; everyone will have a different point-of-view.

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