Something Thoreau wrote on July 21, 1851

“Men are very generally spoiled by being so civil and well-disposed. You can have no profitable conversation with them, they are so conciliatory, determined to agree with you. They exhibit such long-suffering and kindness in a short interview. I would meet with some provoking strangeness, so that we may be guest and host and refresh on another. It is possible for a man wholly to disappear and be merged in his manners. The thousand and one gentlemen whom I meet, I meet despairingly, and but to part from them, for I am not cheered by the hope of any rudeness from them. A cross man, a coarse man, an eccentric man, a silent, a man who does not drill well – of him there is some hope. Your gentlemen, they are all alike.”

A lack of truly genuine character, the mark of which is the obsequious, know-nothing suck-up, is still just as easy to find today. The one who responds “I know that” regardless of the discourse, is best dispatched with haste – they add zero value to either the debate at hand, or the world in general.

MG signing off (to look someone in the face and tell them something they likely don’t want to hear)


eRIC eNGLISH says:

“If people don’t walk away from you shaking their heads, you’re doing something wrong!” -John Gierach

I’m not one that Thoreau, Gierach, or M.G. would find anything but polite and possibly a little bit of a wag. I would hope people I meet would be a bit more cheerful, work and play hard without complaint to the best of their ability, be charitable and be a bit enthusiastic about it!

The act of disagreement is the spawn of healthy debate, independent of the mannerism employed for delivery. Hence, Thoreau and/or Gierach would surely engage you with vigor. My opinion doesn’t matter one iota, but I certainly would too. And enjoy it, much as I just have.

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