Unanswered Questions: Do we exist to learn or to teach?

There’s an interesting prompt in another thread. It pertains to the use of ‘sarcasm’.
I like that prompt but the person offering it proposed that sarcasm was akin to negativity.

My first thought was “Really? How could something so much fun and humorous be a bastion of negativity?”
It was then I realized that the bias of that presentation was just a personal sensibility.
No harm, no foul, of course. We’re allowed personal viewpoints. The creepy part is that some people frame their views as absolute, inarguable, truths.
Do they believe that or are they just being a bit inartful?
It’s hard to tell. I’m not a ‘mind reader’.

That whole thought process made me continue to examine the propensity of human beings to define the ‘world’ according to their personal sensibilities. I think the leadership of the U.S. have on many unfortunate occasions decided to impose American values on other cultures. I believe many times (not all) it came from an altruistic arrogance on the premise that we had found the ‘correct’ course and assumed the role as a ‘teacher’ to all humanity. Well, if countries do that, I’m sure individuals are capable of that approach too.
Reagan’s “Shining City on the Hill” speech may have been the best way to ‘teach’… by example. “Because I say so.” is a poorer way to influence others than “Look at how well I’ve done.” As we learn, any lessons we have to offer are clear from our successes or failures.
[Our current predicaments are attributable IMHO to an outrageous disregard for our Constitution which had made our prosperous progress possible. When will we (our leadership) learn?]

Expanding the stream of consciousness brought me to the broadest question, “Do we exist to learn or to teach?”

As a self-described ‘student of life’, my tendency is to want to learn. You’ve already noticed that I enjoy asking questions.
But there is a ‘teacher’ in each of us too. Especially those who are parents and mentors of children.

I had to laugh during a recent vacation day spent with my granddaughter and a day care friend. We humorously caught on to a theme that developed quickly as we visited. There was a lesson in every topic I proposed! We got to the point when I said something we’d chime, “Here comes the lesson!” LOL

Yes, I wanted to ‘teach’ the kids. But the manner I chose wasn’t at all in the form of a lecture. It could be better described as a series of “Let’s think about that together.” moments. I told stories about difficult situations I had been confronted with in my life then invited them to examine “Why?” I made my decisions and “If?” they would have decided the same. I didn’t impose my values; I showed the kids how I had applied them. A few times, I asked their opinions on whether I may have been wrong. I truly wanted their opinion!

So, I did assume a ‘teaching’ role, but my lessons were to be found in an uncertain ‘testing’ of my values. I had remained primarily a ‘student’. IMHO… if more of us asked questions and perceived ourselves as fellow ‘students’, there would be far fewer righteous judgements (conclusions) made and more questions asked.
By reading the comments on the ‘biased’ prompt that I opened with, it appears to me that some ‘adults’ think their roles in this life are primarily as ‘teachers’ of how others should behave. It’s curiously always implied that ‘decency‘ depends on their ‘rules’ too. [I’m starting to imagine that the ubiquitous concerns over “bullying” have given them this authority in their own minds. To that I would ask which mimics ‘bullying’ more? Telling others “How they should behave.” or asking “Why they behave the way they do?”]

It just occurred to me that my interest in writing stories and poems comes directly from my desire to offer my viewpoint for others to consider and learn from for better or worse. They are still free to decide. Freedom is awesome!

8 thoughts on “Unanswered Questions: Do we exist to learn or to teach?

  1. We exist to do both I think. There are many things I have learnt of my kids, humility, and understanding are two of them. I grew up in the seventies, so could easily have had the same opinions as my parents, but I think I taught them something good.

  2. Negativity is actually built in the definition of the word “sarcasm.” It isn’t mere humor ~ it’s designed to hurt. Most bloggers agreed that they try to limit their usage, which was nice to see. But of course there are a few outliers 😀

    Teaching or learning… depends on the situation. I would say I have much more to learn, especially about marketing my work…

    1. Thanks Paula. “Most bloggers agree” is a marvelous measure for a poll.
      Since I use sarcasm for humor and a way of diffusing bad feelings and still consider myself a ‘decent’ human being, mark me down as a “No” on that poll. 😉 ❤

  3. Learning should never stop, and learning should include a constant examination of our underlying assumptions. Unless we validate our assumptions, we cannot be certain that what we believe is true.

    We are always teaching. If nothing else, we set an example. If we cannot teach, we don’t understand very much.

    Is sarcasm appropriate in instruction? Can be, but we need to gently direct our sarcasm against errors in belief, not erroneous people, and that can be tricky.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting!
      When it comes to sarcasm, it is usually applied when we find someone else’s views a challenge to our own. In that event, there seems to be three choices on how to handle that.
      One… (too often employed IMHO) is to get belligerent and angry resulting in a shouting match.
      Two… is to be dismissive of that opinion and shutting down any conversation. Common ground cannot be found there. (Not a thoughtful approach)
      Three… to insert a bit of sarcasm for making a point. (Only useful on people with the humility to laugh at themselves and /or have the ability to respond with their own sarcasm.) Those who feel ‘made fun of’, and want to leave, need to ‘grow up’. Their ideas may have done some good, but their ‘feelings’ turned them into intellectual ‘cowards’ who expect somehow everyone else to know what their insecurities are.
      What people choose to do is how we find out who really wants a conversation as opposed to who is looking just for validation and agreement. [I suspect they may sense that their opinions may not hold up to questioning too.] How does THAT help anyone with solutions? They could have been ambassadors of their beliefs and affected change, but they chose to run and hide.
      IMHO…The people who remain ‘adult’ enough to allow for conversations on difficult topics are our only hope.

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