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Unreasonable People

by Dora

Driving in the car the other day, I heard a random quote on NPR’s “The Treatment.” Russell Brand, who I’ve never heard of before, and who sounds quite gratingly cockney, quoted George Bernard Shaw, and the idea enthralled me the rest of my commute. To paraphrase …

Unreasonable people look at the world and ask it to conform to them. Reasonable people look at the world and seek to conform to it. Therefore, the world will only ever be changed by unreasonable people.

As a second generation, east asian, member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, middleclass woman, I find that most of my life has been a bastion on reasonableness. And really, I like being reasonable.

However, over the past 10 years, I’ve been finding me positive ways to deal with that within me which will not conform. Instead of ignoring it, or using it to lambast others, I’ve tried to find ways to constructively interact with others. Sometimes I find I’m in the wrong. I then eat my slice of humble pie and change myself. Other times, I find I’m in the right. Then begins the much harder task of trying the change the world. Inertia is against me. And yet, there is something exhilarating in the challenge.

I know many unreasonable people. Nurses and doctors who battle against disease and injury. A federal prosecutor who prosecutes child pornographers. Teachers and professors who fight ignorance. Social workers and counselors who help others fight their own battles. FBI agents and firemen who work to keep us safe. Parents who teach and nurture the next generation. So many unreasonable people who fight to make a difference.

How about you? Where do you find yourself on the scale of reasonableness? Has this changed with time? Towards which end of the spectrum? What do you see in the world that you would like to change? How do you wage your own  battle against inertia? Who are the unreasonable people who make a difference in your own life?


Dora is a pediatric critical care nurse. Therapy to alleviate the stress in her professional life include traveling around the world, reading, partner dancing and hosting dinner parties.

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5 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Dora, I like that quote as well. In a lot of ways, I think my natural state of being is to be on the compliant and reasonable side, but as I’ve gotten older, my unreasonable side has come out as well.

    Most of this unreasonable attitude is directed towards issues of equity and fairness. The status of women in the Church, of course, looms large. I so wish we had a greater sphere of service and leadership.

    I know I can’t really get the Church to change, but I can lead my life as I see fit and speak out when I see problems. I don’t feel like I have to accept Church ideas about what it means to be a woman, and I think my very presence at Church is my way of fighting against the inertia you talked about. I may not be able to change the Church, but I’m also not willing to cram myself and my ideas into a mold that just doesn’t fit. Maybe that’s a middle ground between the two?

  2. Angie says:

    Yesterday, I was talking with a good friend in my ward, and I said, “It takes a lot of courage to be me!”. I know that is a weird thing to say , but my friend agreed. 🙂

    I feel this way because it is intolerable to me to remain silent or inactive in the presence of something that I judge to be morally wrong. I value relationships with all my heart, and I care so much what people think of me – but I despise evil even more. I embrace feeling uncomfortable or straining a relationship, if it means that I can champion the cause of right.

    Now that I’ve said that, let me make a comment about how this plays out in real life: I spend a lot of time second-guessing what I say. I’m always searching for the way to nurture relationships AND stand up for what I believe is right. There’s got to be a way to do what’s right AND show love to all involved, including those I disagree with.

  3. Jessawhy says:

    Great post, Dora.

    Like you said, I think I go back and forth between reasonable and unreasonable.
    I hope that I’m humble enough to recognize when I’m wrong, or that other opinions might be equally valid.

    My other hope is that the spectrum of reasonable/unreasonable shifts greatly over time.
    Or perhaps I’ll shift my values and perceptions over time. Either way, it’s not a static system and that’s important to remember.

  4. Jana says:

    This quote reminds me a bit of another that I love: “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.”

    I suspect that such misbehaved women were seldom reasonable.

  5. Kiri Close says:

    Varies according to sitchee-ayshun.

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