Saturday, January 21, 2012

Order and Chaos -- Writer's Poke #355

Somehow a young man ends up at the movie theater. The ticket girl is quite disinterested in his presence. She is preoccupied with pulling the grey hairs from her head, and when he asks her if the movie is worth seeing, she tells him not to waste his time. After all, it’s just a boring romance film. He takes her advice and asks her where he can find the nearest taxi stand. Eventually, he will hire a cab, but first he will cause a little chaos by pushing a rock off an overpass. This rock will hit a car and cause a major traffic accident.

Meanwhile, a taxi driver is cleaning his taxi. He takes great care to give it a thorough cleaning; a young couple walks over to ask if the taxi is available for hire, but he rudely tells them that he is not done cleaning his cab, sending them away to wait at the taxi stand. A devil’s head hangs from his rearview mirror, and this driver certainly won’t win any customer service awards as far as the young couple is concerned. In his defense, the man likes cleanliness, and he also likes order. Customers are supposed to wait their turn.

Somewhere else in the city, a recently graduated law student is interviewing to pass his final exams. He seems uncertain about his chosen profession, and he admits to an interviewer that he isn’t sure why he wants to be a lawyer. He admits that he doesn’t subscribe to the idea that punishment acts as a good deterrent to crime, even though he knows that presenting this view may be held against him. Perhaps the uncertainty he feels about becoming a lawyer has to do with confusion about whether or not a lawyer has the ability to promote order, or even if order is an ultimate good.

Think about order and chaos. Based simply on the above character sketches, explain your thoughts about the young man, the taxi driver, and the lawyer as they relate to order and chaos.

“Good order is the foundation of all things.” – Edmund Burke

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dorota (Almost) Smiles -- Writer's Poke #354

The Doctor knows something about the temporary nature of the human condition. During World War II, he was a young man with a wife and two children. One day, he had to work a long shift at the hospital. When he called home, everything was fine. But when his shift was over and he returned home, he discovered that his home no longer existed. Bombs had left a crater in its place. His family was dead.

This is what the Doctor knows and has personally experienced; so, when Dorota explains to him that she will have an abortion if her husband, his patient, lives, he must make a choice. Dorota forces the Doctor to take responsibility for her actions; put in that position, he elects to lie, telling her that her husband will die.

In the end, Dorota’s husband does not die; however, thanks to the Doctor, she has not had the abortion. She has returned to living her life, and she has told her husband that they are having a baby. She does not tell him that the father of the child is another man’s, but allows him to believe that he in the father. The actual father of the child knew that Dorota was planning to have an abortion, and for him, that would have been a deal breaker. Although we cannot know for certain, it seems as though Dorota, with the Doctor’s help, has made her choice. She stays in the marriage and raises the child. She can’t have it all, but instead of sacrificing the child, she will sacrifice her lover.

What do you think about the lies both Dorota and the Doctor tell?

“We are not animals. We are not a product of what has happened to us in our past. We have the power of choice.” – Stephen Covey

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Handle with Care -- Writer's Poke #353

The Doctor cares about his patients. His cleaning lady, Barbara, who is also probably his closest friend, probably knows more about him than anyone. Whereas he keeps a professional distance with his patients, he tells Barbara the story of staying up with a teething baby. He does so not because he can ease the baby’s pain, but because staying up with her offers the baby comfort – the only comfort the Doctor has to give.

In other words, the Doctor is nurturer. He doesn’t like to see his patients in pain, and although he doesn’t have the power to magically make everyone better, it’s pretty clear that he is honest when he claims that he wants to do the best for the people he treats.

Dorota’s husband is one of his gravely-ill patients; she is also his neighbor. He recognizes her as the woman that ran over his dog a couple of years ago. Nevertheless, he doesn’t seem to hold a grudge about that. He has compassion for what she’s going through, and he offers her compassion – although he also doesn’t want her to take advantage of his kindness.

Dorota wants answers that the Doctor cannot provide; she would like to know whether or not her husband will recover from his illness. All the Doctor can really tell her is that the prognosis doesn’t look promising. Is his method of response appropriate? Should the Doctor do more to comfort Dorota, or should he simply maintain his professional distance?

“Compassion automatically invites you to relate with people because you no longer regard people as a drain on your energy.” – Chogyam Trungpa