I get up in the morning and ask: What if?
March 29, 2012 9:15 AM   Subscribe

"I get up every morning at 5, go for a half-hour walk in the desert, come home and have a cup of coffee, sit down at the desk and ask myself what I would say if I were him, and what I would do if I were her. I think curiosity is actually a moral virtue. I think a person who is curious is slightly more moral than one who is not curious, because sometimes he enters into the skin of another. I think a curious person is even a better lover than one who is not curious. Even my political approach to the Palestinian question, for example, sprang from curiosity. I am not a Middle East expert or a historian or a strategist. I simply asked myself, at a very young age, what it would be like if I were one of them. So, that’s what I do − get up in the morning and ask myself: What if?" - Israeli writer Amos Oz reflects on his life, on Israel, on writing, and discusses his newest work posted by beisny (4 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting article, it seems as though the concept of "reflection" is either usually awkwardly ignored or simply inconvenient for the modern world these days. For every "you cannot bomb knowledge and you cannot bomb motivation" quote Oz puts out there it's met with at least one "Pacifists are cowards who have learned some rhetoric" comment.

The connundrum is that while I, as an individual, would be a better person if did did less action and more reflection, it does not necessarily follow that my status in society or the welfare of my family would increase. Often, much like with many kibbuts and communes these days, the more you improve one side, the less improvements are seen on the other. There's no gratification, instant or otherwise, that would serve as a benefit to this sort of thing.

But I guess that's the point. That the short term improvements of things like "status in society" is actually a detriment to a long term society as a whole sort of thing. But this is not an easy pill to swallow, especially if that pill cures cancer and the person who might invent it in the next couple of years just quit his or her day job to reflect about things.

Do I want to live a life of reflection? I don't know, but I'll think about it and let you know.
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:48 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is a great article. Thanks.
posted by steinsaltz at 10:49 AM on March 29, 2012

Reflections encourage equanimity. Rocket barrages encourage polemics.

We all are immortal until, oh, around forty years of age, except for those who got killed along the way. That sort of thing--death, I mean--always happens to someone else. I guess their point of view is more or less under-represented--it's sort of hard for them, being dead, to write about it.

I have given up the notion that facts are somehow required to converge. Oz grew up in a kibbutz in a land of perpetual warfare. He can't help but dither. I was an American soldier for eight years, 1963-1971. I never grew up. I just got old. I did start reflecting early on, though, the first time I searched a body and thought: That could be me. From then until now I've grown increasingly appreciative of irony. I feed on it, and it warms me on cold nights, now that I know I am not immortal, and no longer fear becoming dead.

Give me the rocking chair and the blanket, and the sun-warmed porch. I will gladly dither my way down memory lane, snug as a bug in a rug, happy as a clam.
posted by mule98J at 10:59 AM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think curiosity is actually a moral virtue.

Better still, it can be a lifesaver, if you've been running someone else's program, been set aside and asking yourself what you're good for. For the curious, the world is always full of opportunity. Earlier today I was reading about 3 retired blokes who are working on DIY fusion together. It could just as well be how to catch that one big one that got away.
posted by Twang at 4:33 PM on March 29, 2012

« Older Power to the Peeple   |   Everything Must Go! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments