Silent riot of a sheep: a moustache

Judging and blaming, lots of blaming

In the plane waiting for taking off, a girl was sitting right next to me made her face dismantled when a recently married couple entered with their little son sitting behind row of mine. The boy started to cry and shout, just as any annoying child insisting his demand out loud. The parents were there to deal with the demand. When the plane was about the take off, the girl next to me called a flight attendant.

– Can I change the seat? It is too noisy here.

The flight attendant permitted and they both walked away. The parents behind remained silent. I was embarrassed. Of course she has every right to ask her wish to be somewhere quiet. The noise that the boy made didn’t really bother me, and I understand that I cannot force my standard to others either. But could she have asked without blaming the family justifying her demand? Was it, even partially, necessary? I reflected then concluded that my best approach would be asking like: ‘Can I move to another seat? I’d like to enjoy many empty seats ahead to have more space and my own time’. Having it heard in my head, now not only confident she seems but also she avoids pointing out her immature judgement on others. At least, I thought, what bothered her wasn’t the family but her impatience against the noise by children.

Simulating this scenario in my head of what would be an alternative for better communication, I might be also conducting a judgement on others in silence. And this happens a lot. Judgement is always accompanied by one’s moral perspective, and since I have my own moral perspective I’m not free from committing judgement on others. Yet I’d stay in silence trying to avoid a blaming, whose intent doesn’t always result successful.

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Three bearded guys in the metro cabin

So here comes my story. I was in a metro cabin, not long ago in Seoul, where I met two guys fully bearded like me. In an extremely homogenised society like Korea, having beard is uncommon, even is considered uncanny in certain level. People throw judgemental staring on the street or in the metro, even though such eye-contact is considered rude. Those eyes deliver an unspoken message; ‘Do you think you are special to be different?’. This is contagious, and I am contaminated by this mentality as well. The first bearded guy was a mentally-challenged beggar. He rushed into the crowd violently and stood few centimetres ahead of a lady asking money repeatedly. After a long minute of rejection, he moved to another lady trying the same. His odour travelled fast and occupied the whole vagon.

The second bearded guy was just sitting in front of me after a while. He was in fashion, as I noticed with his Ray-Ban golden-frame eyeglasses. He trimmed well his beard, not like the first guy I saw in the metro. The difference I checked was that I shaved off cheeks forming my beard in a single line along with the jaw he had his cheek untouched in comparison. Maybe he noticed me too, but we didn’t exchange any staring to confirm our beard-hood, playing minority in a society that demands to shave off.

On those two cases, I was also judging those two other bearded guys in silence, even though all of us three fit in a similar category. By judging, I tried to differentiate myself from other two guys even within a same category. Maybe the judgemental staring on the metro cabin had a point. When I told some friends this story later, I was told that this was the reason that I should shave off (‘It’s because you have beard. Shave it off!’). But I was loath to follow their homogenising advice. Then I told this story to my partner, and I was told that people stare at me because I’m free (‘C’est parce que tu es beau et libre, et amoureux’). My gratitude was overflooded for being with such a considerate partner, then realised of the importance of one supportive statement. I was lucky to be respected for whom I pursue to be. I shouldn’t make this a luck for this society, rather I should run it with a normality: The next time I see others with beard, maybe I should give them at least a supportive beard-hood without judging in silence.

Jonathan Glover said that ‘the greatest risk comes, not from a society of autonomous critical thinkers, but from a society of unreflective moral sheep’. My moustache is a mark that I’d be a critical and free thinker rather than being an unreflective moral sheep who follows whichever homogenising advice that is given by others around. I should note that in the future I might change my point of view about this moustache, but I’d like to keep the principle to remain same (‘Ne soyez pas les moutons’).

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