Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

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Reciprocity

I keep thinking about the results of that experiment on monkeys, which suggested that even "simple" primates have an innate sense of fairness.

Whenever I visit Skylar's pre-school, there are at least one or two kids in her class seeking redress for wrongs: "He's got two puppets and I only have one."

If only we outgrew this behavior. Pre-school seems like an idealist fantasy compared to most workplaces.

And it's usually no better in the home. I can't tell you how many arguments Kim and I have had over perceived slights.

We should be mature enough to know better, yet we persist in provoking each other. Most of the time, we do it with body language and the sighs and mutterings that give our gestures vocal emphasis. Pressed to explain out exudings, we demur: "I never said I was annoyed. What are you talking about?"

This sort of communicative friction is part and parcel of interpersonal relationships, I suppose. But there would be a lot less of it if we were able to dispense with the notion that every good deed deserves a reward in equal measure.

Why is it so hard for us to forego the emotional ledger sheet?

I hate to sound like one of those pop psychologists whose books grace even poorly stocked airport newsstands. But sometimes you just have to call a Buick Regal a Buick Regal.

We'd be a lot happier if we learned to stop keeping score.
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