I wrote this to the ARR list
Subject: Re: Too Close For Comfort
On Thursday, April 10, 2003, at 03:34 AM, Alice Bachini wrote:
What if cutting one's own hair distresses long term friend?
As soon as one suspects that this might be the case, for example when one notices than one's friend starts crying whenever one mentions barbers', one should get sufficiently distant from one's friend that he no longer minds what one does to one's hair
Well, that is *one* approach (one can't help but notice the subject line, at this point). And it is true that with sufficient distance from everyone else, one will never have relationship problems. But this would be a lonely life.
There is another approach to relationships, which embraces intimacy instead of seeing it as a threat to autonomy. With this alternative approach, we will be wary of condemning our friends for hangups or even for moral wrongdoing. We will see joint problem solving, not as something to avoid via distance, but as an enjoyable venture conducive to more intimacy. We will not be frightened of "erosion of our personal domain" -- rather the opposite: we will welcome caring and closeness.
(presumably he is able to co-exist on the planet with others who cut their hair, it's only when he gets close that the problems start).
That certain problems only occur in close relationships, does not mean we should not have them. Certain problems only occur when you have kids, too. Or when you go out to dinner.
One should stay distant, and negotiate from there, until the problem is solved. If it remains unsolved, one should stay distant.
What if intimacy is conducive to solving problems of these sorts? It seems that the solution depends on detailed personal knowledge of each other.
But this reveals another divide: Is the goal to let the person with long hair do whatever she likes, or is it for the two friends to reach agreement? If we have the first goal, distance seems a good plan. But if we have the second -- if we find people caring about us to have value rather than be a burden -- then distance is not the right answer.
All this should happen before "long-term" has become one of the expectations of the friendship. People should not get involved with those who would impinge their basic freedoms against their will.
If one values these "basic freedoms" above all else, Alice is perfectly right. But that is not the only approach to life.
Note the "above all else" clause includes morality! For morality tells us that to get what we want -- to fully realise our intentions -- we must be open to changing those intentions to ones that are better realisable. And so, we cannot hold up rights as the be-all, end-all of everything. We must be willing to compromise them when doing so will help us.
When the wrongness is very ingrained, problems are very serious and it's simply too late to get away (distance) easily, gradually and carefully can sometimes work. Other times, bombs are required (laser-guided recommended).
Is the suggestion really that if we find our life intertwined with someone, and we find this person cares about our hair, we must destroy the relationship to get back our "freedom"?