WEB Point/Counterpoint pt1

Sarah Baldwin

Bluntness will get you nothing except a kick to the head from me

There is no way to be completely unselfish. It shouldn’t even be an ideal, because it isn’t obtainable. Well, unless you are a saint — and I haven’t met too many of them recently.

However, there is something to be said about the need for the return of manners and etiquette in our society. It could improve life for all of us, and it would only require one change in behavior: Do unto others as you’d have done to yourself.

If everyone followed the Golden Rule, it would be a lot easier to wake up in the morning.

People should go out of their way to be kind to each other. Whether it’s leaving a little larger tip than you normally would, or holding the door for someone who’s got their hands full, small acts of selflessness (manners) not only make the world go ‘round — they make it slightly better. If you make one person’s day better by being nice, then most likely they will be nice to someone else … and that niceness will eventually come back to you.

It seems a lot of college-aged people think that manners are old-fashioned and pretentious, and being polite is equivalent to being fake. This set of folks believe that you should say exactly what’s on your mind and do whatever you feel like, all the time, and never hold anything back. They claim they are just “blunt” people and expect that everyone should just have to deal with it. Well, this current blunt trend is going to get a blunt response from me: Being “blunt” doesn’t make you honest, it makes you rude. And it makes me want to kick you in the head.

Acting this way is a form of selfishness. Let’s face it — it’s much easier to just think of how you feel and what you want. It’s simple to say whatever you desire without thinking of how it will affect other people. We are born that way. Our basic human nature cannot be denied — we are inherently selfish. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to be pleasant and kind in this most basic of arenas — everyday life. Does it really gall us that badly to give the poor sap that needs into the left lane a little space? Is it really that hard to hold your tongue when someone says something you disagree with?

Apparently so, because if you are alive and breathing, you can probably recall a time when you needed to make a left turn in your car, and nobody would make room for you to get over. You also can probably remember when you may have said something that you didn’t consider particularly opinionated, and someone you didn’t know was listening, and they just decided to butt in and argue about it because they disagreed with what you said.

Bluntness assumes that your opinion is special and matters more than other people’s thoughts and feelings. I think people really believe that by being blunt they are being honest. However, using honesty as an excuse to be mean is never all right. There is one thing that separates bluntness from honesty, and that is tact.

Being tactful allows you to be honest without being hurtful. Tact is the chocolate coating that covers the (sometimes yucky) truth. It isn’t lying — it’s saying what you mean in the kindest way possible.

So next time you think that something good might be accomplished by telling someone exactly what you think, think again. Remember that making an attempt to grease the skids of human interaction will do more than just make one person’s day a little easier — it makes it easier on all of us.

Sarah Baldwin is a senior magazine journalism major and an editorial writer for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].