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Non Objectivist Friends

41 posts in this topic

It depends on what you mean by "dangerous." If you mean a situation where there is a threat of force involved, I don't think that would qualify as one of the "situations where silence can objectively be taken to mean agreement." If someone is threatening force, say anything you have to!

It's not the overt threat of a knife, but I know that if I need to shut up in order to keep a job so I can eventually move out of Sweden, that's what I'll do even when (not if) I hear irrational arguments and statements. I can see nothing but risk in trying to debate from an Objectivist perspective here. I'll stick to you guys for that.

In a situation like that, force is indirectly involved. Otherwise, what would prevent you from moving to the U.S. and working here right now?

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Other than Visa concerns, there are still things (educational, vocational and personal matters) to work out before I'm ready. There's been a lot of problems throughout my mid to late teens and early twenties, so I'm behind schedule. But I keep the goal in mind, and in the meantime I can talk to Objectivists online on this forum and elsewhere. It's a great resource.

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I'm thinking about this for some time, but especially last month it begins to become more and more important and some kind of problem.

As is quite a common case with Objectivists I guess, is that our philosophy

Lately (because of the increased time we spend together because of the holidays) it becomes increasingly clear to me, during dinners and conversations, that me and my family (close relatives + aunts, uncles, grandparents, nephews, nieces) grow apart. I get quite irritated when they make certain irrational comments or do irrational actions. For example, during Christmas dinner, it happened to be that most of the time we talked about politics and other topics where politics are involved (e.g. charity). I had to do my best from stating my own views, because I can tell from experience that my family (Christians and socialists) will launch a full-scale attack on me when I tell my Objectivist view on things. I rather avoid those insulting and truly harassing actions, so I keep my opinion mostly to myself. I couldn't get along very well with them in past, but now it reaches a point where I'm annoyed by those conversations and consider them as a waste of time.

This is also happening with my close relatives (brother, sister, parents), I find it difficult (probably because I understand Objectivism better and better every day and I integrate it more into my life) to enjoy their company, and I notice that we have less and less things in common, which results in having very few topics to talk about. Which I regret, because I like my brother very much, but I notice when grow gradually more apart. So I tried to avoid politics, but even then I have trouble to find certain conversations in which we can engage fine, because Objectivism applies to a lot of things in life.

My mother apparently also noticed, and she told me she was very worried, because she noted that I deliberately make less and less time available to spend with her and my siblings (all above the age of twenty). I regret this to be honest, but I truly don't enjoy the times we spend with each other and consider them a waste of my time. Of course I could agree with everything they say to make the ride easier, but I see that as betraying my own rational judgement and philosophy, e.i. betraying myself.

I don't think I've a obligation to my family, because there can't exist such a thing as a unchosen liability, but still: they're my family, and I know that they will be very angry with me (especially my close relatives) if I tell them I don't enjoy their company.

The problem is not so much that we differ in philosophy andpolitical preferences, but rather that I find their beliefs through plays in their lives and their choices.

I'm not sure what my values are, it is quite clear that my family's company isn't a value to me. But to 'leave' my family and separate myself from them, I don't know, I'm still related to them. Or would you call this a irrational value because it seems I've some feelings of original duty to my family? I wouldn't be spending time with them if they weren't my family.

I know I'm just 17, and this problem is going to be more important for when I'll live on my own, and I have to make choices like this. But I'm kinda stuck with this, I hope you can give me your views on this.

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I just noticed the great numbers of spelling mistakes, I'll check my post an extra time the next time before I post it.

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Interesting that you should mention this, Laars. I am in a similar position though I'm 8 years older than you (whoa, time really does fly. I did say I'm behind schedules ;) ). I too am growing apart from most of my family. At first I was concerned about this but as I kept looking at the truth, I found I wasn't even that dismayed by the prospects of not having much contact with them. That's the power of ideas right there - I genuinely don't believe that sharing DNA trumps sharing character, so my emotions followed suit. There's some disappointment there for me, but also a sense of finality because I know this is the way it has to be given who I am and who they are. Getting along with and enjoying your biological family is anything but given. Some get to do it, others don't; nobody chooses their parents, siblings etc. so the way I see it is that I simply wasn't "dealt that kind of hand" in life.

In the long run the people who really matter are those you choose: your life partner, friends, children (if you choose to have them), and any previous family you choose - for good reasons - to keep in touch with. It's harsh being a stranger in your own family but it's just luck anyway. Get dealt a bad hand, you go make your own.

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I often have said to others "you can't save anyone from their own values". I think that's true and it is a hard fact.

I will go you one better. You and I are under no obligation to save anyone from their own willful stupidity. Let those who sow the wind, reap the whirlwind, in due course. For someone making an honest mistake a word of good sense and caution would be a graceful gesture, but not much more is due.

ruveyn

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Besides avoiding them, there are ways you can make holiday gatherings more pleasant. You can steer the conversation away from controversial topics like politics and religion and toward areas where you share some common values.

"Let's not discuss politics. This is Christmas and if we talk politics, some people will always get angry and upset. I'd rather thank Aunt Ida for the beautiful sweater she gave me. Did someone tell you red was my favorite color?"

You can also steer the conversation to reminiscences of past holiday gatherings and the funny things that happened. You can talk about the weather and make other small talk. Etc.

Another strategy is to find and focus on someone there you like, if there is one, and spend most of your time with them and ignore the rest. If you don't think you'll find anybody like that among the invited guests, ask your host if you can bring a date or a friend. Then you'll have someone you'll enjoy talking to and an acceptable excuse to avoid people you don't like.

If you choose to get involved in social events dominated by non-Objectivists, take charge, manage your participation in it, and make it more acceptable and enjoyable for yourself.

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Sounds like a good plan for Laars to try out while he's still young enough not to have made his own place (wife, house etc.). Of course, some people are simply useless and so there's no point in spending time with them even once a year, but that's something he'll have to judge for himself. At 17 the options are limited for most people but I know some guys who at that age started spending holidays with their girlfriends' families as much as possible out of preference.

As for your overall (year-around and long term) relationship with your family, Laars: A person's character, personality, and values is what matter the most. Barring abuse, most parents, siblings etc. hold an "account" with you because you grow up with them/together for many years and that means something. If you're lucky they'll be people you will find worthy of having in your life even when this account is spent, because they're just that good. But if not, it'll do you no good to give them credit they haven't earned just because you're related. At 17 you probably don't have to make any permanent decisions just yet, but you'll know what to go by some years down the road when you'll become busier and more independent.

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Have any of you decided not to spend time anymore with your family? If so, how did they react?

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Have any of you decided not to spend time anymore with your family? If so, how did they react?

I cut my parents slack. They bled and sweated for me and when I needed help, there they were, no questions asked.

There is an Old Saying: Blood is thicker than water. There is something to it.

ruveyn

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Have any of you decided not to spend time anymore with your family? If so, how did they react?

Not officially, but I will. If I get to move to the US, that'll pretty much be the end of it in any case. I don't particularly care how they'll react.

There is an Old Saying: Blood is thicker than water. There is something to it.

I've found the opposite to be true, to a degree surprising even to myself. I want to associate with people of my (and their own) choice. That's not say family couldn't have value, but only to the extent I'd associate with them regardless because of who they are. And such people don't exist in my family. Mind you this is after one has grown up and achieved financial independence.

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But what good is a friend who turns his back to you for casually insulting a career politician? Good grief.

Right. The Christian socialist friend I mentioned is (of course) an Obama supporter and I have mocked Obama in front of her and we are still friends. Part of respecting the other's point of view is accepting that he is going to make remarks reflecting his point of view.

Ayn Rand said the following:

"When one deals with irrational persons, where argument is futile, a mere “I don’t agree with you” is sufficient to negate any implication of moral sanction. When one deals with better people, a full statement of one’s views

may be morally required. But in no case and in no situation may one permit one’s own values to be attacked or denounced, and keep silent."

This issue has taken center stage for me as of late. It's to the point that I may be required to dissolve an 11 year marriage because I cannot permit myself to be held any longer by guilt. My wife is a Catholic. By staying with her I feel as if I am sanctioning evil through association.

In many ways I relate to the character Hank Reardon. However, I have a difficult time leaving my daughter in the custody of this woman. I am in the military and by the very nature of my job will stand little chance of winning custody in court.

With close aquaintances I speak my mind always. Sometimes I initiate the conversation. It's of no consequence to me whether they agree or not.

I only know one man I can rightfully call a friend. My differences with him involve his lack of knowledge not lack of reason. I consider him a competent man and just recently he took me up on my reading suggestions.

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Was your wife Catholic when you married her? While I agree that the guilt and irrationality emanating from religion is evil, not all it's adherents are evil by nature. Their main crime is the choice not to challenge their beliefs. If you remain rational, you can hardly be said to be sanctioning evil by continued association. Perhaps even it's opposite by being a counter-balance that mitigates evil.

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Was your wife Catholic when you married her? While I agree that the guilt and irrationality emanating from religion is evil, not all it's adherents are evil by nature. Their main crime is the choice not to challenge their beliefs. If you remain rational, you can hardly be said to be sanctioning evil by continued association. Perhaps even it's opposite by being a counter-balance that mitigates evil.

Was my wife Catholic when I married her?

My wife has always considered herself a Catholic in large part because her parents are Catholic. She held this belief without knowledge of its implications. She accepted the idea as a type of inheritance. More recently, she has actively devoted herself to the practice of this religion. This began in earnest when she entered into AAs Twelve Step program as a remedy to her drinking problem.

I also had a drinking problem and ran from the program of AA once I realized what it was about. I made the choice to substitute an irrational lifestyle in favor of consciousness. She has substituted one irrational lifestyle for another.

This represents the nature of my dilema.

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Almost everyone I know that has gone to AA regularly has managed to substitute either smoking or chain coffee consumption for alcohol.

Does anyone know if this is common among AAers? If so, why does it happen?

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Almost everyone I know that has gone to AA regularly has managed to substitute either smoking or chain coffee consumption for alcohol.

Does anyone know if this is common among AAers? If so, why does it happen?

This is common among all addicts(and also among people who are mentally ill). I think it works as a stress reliever. The popular scientific theory being that the drug abuse has worn out the dopamine receptors in the brain, and as a result more dopamine needs to be released for the person to feel "normal". Withdrawal from that one huge stimuli increases the need for something else to deal with the anxiety. Coffee and cigarettes tend to be close at hand. Junk food is rather common as well, though that's more common among those who quit smoking.

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