To Speak or not to speak

So I’m sitting next to this guy in a large packed auditorium – 500 people plus. No extra chairs – glad I flagged the one I’m on. Glad, till I take a deeper breath, and “Oh my! What’s that smell?” The young man’s body smelled.

So chances are that he lives alone, no roommates to comment on it, or spouse who’d be raising a fuss for sure. No, I imagine he just doesn’t realize that he smells. So I should say something, soon? But seats were rare, no easy escape, so I ended up sitting next to him the whole day and I fought with myself whether or not to say something.

Now given that we’re polite Canadians and keep our mouths closed in iffy polite situations, maybe it’s time to reexamine our habits here. Maybe we should start to get less polite and more honest now – for where exactly does our politeness get us?

Say you’re in a coffee shop with a few friends – all intelligent, sharp people, articulate. But one person has the floor and is going on and on and on and on. And no one has the gumption to speak up and cut him off – however politely it’s done. By the slight restlessness around the table – you can really tell that his turn was up awhile ago already,

In one of the Right Use of Will books, it’s suggested that that’s one of the things that’s wrong with our planet right now. That too often we really don’t say what we actually mean, just for the sake of politeness. And for what? Maybe this person really had to hear what it is we have to say, maybe he really doesn’t realize this something about himself, possibly even something quite important, that he hadn’t noted before.

The other day I had occasion to point out to a colleague, that how he reacted to an annoying person from another group was a definite sign of what Jung called a “complex”. Since the annoying person didn’t strike anyone else in our group as annoying, indicated some personal issue was being triggered by the other’s actions – triggering some person issue that my friend hadn’t yet noticed or dealt with. (an issue that I’d noticed he’d had for quite some time). The upshot was that the man’s avoided me ever since

But I spoke up. I think we all should more often.


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