Author Topic: Questioning Convention  (Read 407 times)

Lord J Esq

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Questioning Convention
« on: October 08, 2011, 11:30:44 pm »
Our society gives a lot of currency to the notion of “questioning conventional wisdom,” but in practice I find it really rather uncommon that people actually do so. Convention may simply be too hard to question if you’re not aware of it. This thread is an occasion for questioning convention, and thereby hopefully expanding our horizons.

I think it would be helpful if we boldfaced the convention being questioned, to make the conventions themselves more distinctive amid the discussion.

Lord J Esq

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Re: Questioning Convention
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2011, 11:31:44 pm »
I’ll go first:

The Convention:
Passivity, quietness, and docility constitute good behavior.

This is not a prominent convention anymore, but far from obsolete either—especially in regards to pets and children, and, more glaringly, to wives and servants. You can hear it expressed in the saying “They behaved so well it was like they weren’t even here,” and in the blunter saying “Children should be seen and not heard.” I got to thinking about this a little while ago when I jokingly thought to myself that our dog, who isn't here, was being "so quiet it was like he wasn't even here."

The underlying implication seems to be that servile humans and creatures, when in the presence of their masters, should be “at the ready” or otherwise “not a nuisance,” thus implying the preclusion of their more natural state of behavior.

I don’t want this thread to imply that every questioned convention is worth rejecting. That said, this convention seems very difficult to justify as generally valid, and is definitely something to keep in mind the next time you find yourself being meeker or more polite than you would otherwise be—or demanding the same from others.