The Drama Review (April 21, 2017)
Dear looking-for-the-exits drama participants,
I’m trying to reach the point where I can honestly refer to this commentary as “weekly” without using quotation marks. It’s been out three weeks and I’ve only hit two of the three so I suppose it will be a while before I can’t be accused of embellishing when I use the word “weekly.”
I’m trying to make better use of my time so I’m working on this thing while sitting on a runway in a weather-delayed plane. My mind just wandered to another plane adventure.
On a previous trip, I had boarded and a girl sat down in the seat next to me. She had several things in her hands, one of which was a purse. Out of the unzippered portion of the purse’s opening protruded the head of a dog. The dog’s head was probably no bigger than your fist but every place a bow could be attached was attached a bow. The girl also brought in a container of airport variety yogurt—you know, the kind with the ready-to-stir-in granola.
The girl reached down to get something out of her bag and, as she did, the purse dog began lapping yogurt right of her container. I was watching this spectacle and thought, “Gross, how disgusting is that?” I flashed back to when our family dog would jump up in my lap and seize the opportunity to lick me right on the lips. This would prompt me to jump up out of my chair, spit furiously, and search frantically for anything—alcohol, saline solution, hand sanitizer, Drano—anything that might kill the dog cooties before they entered my digestive system. Our dog had no shame whatsoever about licking his nether regions or drinking from the toilet in plain sight for all to see. That very same tongue had just protruded in French-kiss fashion down my throat. I still get queasy just thinking about it.
So, back to my plane story. When I saw this dog lapping up its owner’s yogurt, I just assumed the girl’s reaction would be similar to mine. Nope. She sat back up, saw what was happening, and said, “Oh, sweetie, don’t eat it all. Leave some for me. She then got her spoon and began eating her portion of that disease-infested yogurt. As Miss Daisy once said to her driver Hoke, “I thought I was going to spit up,” or something like that.
What, might you ask, does this have to do with your “weekly” drama letter? That’s a very astute question and I would hesitate to give you a superficial answer. So, let me give that some thought and get back with you.
In the meantime, let’s talk some about drama people. As we’ve said, they can also be called unreasonable people because they are un-reason-able. They have neither the ability nor willingness to use reason when relationship problems arise.
See if you don’t agree with this: there’s something wrong with all of us. That includes you and me. This universal human flawed-ness has been articulated in various ways by people from different fields. From the Judeo-Christian perspective, it’s been said that we’ve all sinned. From the perspective of philosophy, Immanuel Kant said that we’re all cut from the crooked timber of humanity. If those perspectives are too lofty for your tastes, think about Linus who said, “I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.”
And do you know where your flaws become most evident? Relationships. I tell people sometimes, if your imperfections seem unclear to you, get married. Because when you’re in close with somebody, what’s wrong with you becomes noticeable. It was there all along but you weren’t aware of it.
For instance, if you’re naturally impatient and have always lived alone, you might’ve never thought of yourself as an impatient person. But if you start sharing space with someone whose natural time table is slower than yours, your impatience becomes evident. It’s like one of those cop shows where they spray whatever that substance is in the trunk of a car and the previously un-seeable blood stains fade into sight. They were there already but couldn’t be seen with the naked eye. Relationships are to personal flaws what that sprayed substance is to blood stains.
Now, when our flaws are revealed, we can handle it in one of two ways.
1) Being reasonable. Reasonableness is the ability to do the right things with personal wrongness.
2) Being unreasonable. Unreasonableness—or what we’re calling drama—is the pattern of doing the wrong things when personal wrongness is revealed.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at five reason abilities that are needed to do the right things with personal wrongness. Reasonable (normal) people have these abilities, unreasonable (drama) people don’t. I think of these abilities as “muscles.” Normal people have use of these muscles and they get stronger with use. Drama people have atrophied muscles so, for all practical purposes, they lack the abilities.
Let me give you a preview of the five reason muscles and the contrasts between normal people and drama people.
Normal: I could be wrong, you could be right, let’s talk
Drama: I’m right, you’re wrong, end of discussion
Normal: I see where I’m wrong
Drama: I only see where I’m right
Normal: It bothers me when I’m wrong
Drama: If I’m wrong, so what?
Normal: It bothers me if I hurt you
Drama: I’m only bothered if you hurt me
Normal: If I’m wrong, I’ll change
Drama: I’ll not change because I’m not wrong
Next “week”, I’ll talk about the first of those five—humility.
P.S. Please don’t send me emails about how dogs’ tongues are actually more sanitary than this or that. That’s just wrong. In fact, I’m right, you’re wrong, end of discussion.