I read a book by Noam Chomsky for a graduate class on communication which was a dense and obtuse snooze. Most likely it was simply over my head. To me, it seemed Chomsky was saying (in many words) that, with language at least, everything sucks.
Sure, that’s an oversimplified interpretation. But have you read him? It’s true.
My visceral reply to all this was, “OK, that’s fine, Mr. Chomsky, it’s all BS anyway!”
I saw his “everything sucks” and raised him an “it’s all BS.”
I discussed this thinking with my professor who immediately admonished me for “falling into the trap of saying everything sucks or it’s all BS!”
“Because we all know that the apparent chaos and ephemeral nature of life are downright sucky at times, no doubt,” he concluded, ” And, yes, BS is really there when you look for it.”
“But remember,” he added, ” there is a tacit agreement to never to bring it up in conversation.”
Think about that. It explains a lot.
“The challenge of life,” he added, “is to make yours less sucky and not the hot, chaotic BS it can be.” “That is our purpose,” he concluded, “bring meaning to our own life!”
Remember, this was a Jesuit University.
“And by doing so,” he said now turning into some kind of Catholic Yoda, “You’ll bring meaning into other’s lives as well!”
So, I learned, if I want to call BS on something, I better bite my tongue. Best I reframe the conversation to one of challenges and weaknesses and not throw the baby out with the bath water. And most important, I should always hypothesize a remedy. Provide a meaningful way out of the problem – a potential solution.
“That way,” I said wrapping up the discussion conveying I got it, “I won’t come across as a Negative Nancy!”
“Exactly!’ he concluded wryly, “But you might want to use a term other than Negative Nancy to describe it – as that’s probably sexist!”
I paused, and thought to myself, “Maybe everything does kind of suck!”
But, this time, said nothing.