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A Day of Compassion

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In conducting my ‘day of compassion’, I had to define what compassion was to me first. Defining it was very difficult since I did not know where to set the standards. Coming up with something arbitrary, I defined compassion rather loosely as being ‘caring, loving, merciful and empathic’ to other people. I tried to keep my efforts solely on a domestic basis so that there would be no misinterpretations if I had done it to my friends on campus or people I did not know. Also, my family would appreciate my efforts more.

I think that a change in my disposition and demeanor such as becoming more compassionate, and in fact any deviation from my usual candor and attitudes would always elicit wonder and suspicion. This is one of the features of social psychology wherein a change in demeanor may be interpreted negatively. It may be implied that compassion has an ulterior motive to its presence. My family would greatly appreciate my efforts in being compassionate and caring instead of the next ordinary person or acquaintance.

Personally, the compassionate version of myself gave me great fulfillment especially in seeing how my family appreciated my efforts and reciprocated them just as easily. I think that this also gives insight into how behavior may be transmitted throughout society. One can serve as an example to others to elicit the same behavior. Examining my experience, I could see that some psychological factors tended to prevent me from being more compassionate. These factors mostly had to do with the dynamics of my family and the status quo of affection and compassion that was the norm within my family.

For example, because of the relative age of me and my siblings, we found it difficult to express sentiments of affection, caring, and love. Being so busy with public life and livelihood such as studies, career, and work, and being used to be professional all the time, compassion is usually forgotten in lieu of proper work ethic and practice. A Day of Nonconformity In my experience in this activity, once again defining the concept to be operationalized was of primary difficulty. Determining the minimum and maximum criteria or behavior that would characterize being nonconformist was a challenge.

The previous experience with the compassion exercise and the experience in this exercise showed me how concepts such as compassion and nonconformity may be highly subjective and at times largely a social construction. This is because my own perceptions of nonconformity may not be congruent with the perceptions of others, and thus my behavior can even be misconstrued to be something totally different. But for the purposes of this activity, nonconformity as defined by me would involve adhering to norms and desires that were produced purely by my own mind and psychology.

I focused my efforts of being nonconformist in my physical appearance since this would be an easy task to perform and in utilitarian aspects wherein usual unwritten social norms would apply. One example would be following my own desires and simple social settings such as restaurants, coffee shops, and other commercial establishments. From this experience, I wanted to examine the psychological costs and benefits that involve this activity. One behavior of nonconformity involve my physical appearance, wherein I would dress myself in clothes that suited my comfort and taste and gave no consideration whatever to the popular and common garb.

I dressed mostly for comfort and less for fashion. One benefit of this behavior is that by myself as an individual, I felt comfortable and did not see the need to constantly adjust, fix, and ensure that my appearance is pleasing others. The cost however involved being the object of discussion, curious stares, and sometimes, ridicule. Being a nonconformist mostly involves having to weigh society’s expectations with your own desires. Usually, the society is the one who wins. A Day of Nonviolence

As with the previous activities, determining if an act is violent or nonviolent is problematic in the sense that social psychology deals with social constructions that differ across cultures and locations. Especially this activity which deals with an issue that impacts a lot of people in terms of how they view the world, I think that this activity gave me great insight on how it would feel to be the producer of violence and the receiver. Defining violence would also entail a determining the levels and scope at which it operates.

Would violence involve only physical acts? If causing harm would be the basis of determining violence, in how many ways can harm be caused? Due to the nature of violence and its problematic definition, I chose to define acts that cause people physical, emotional, psychological, and economic difficulty or harm as violent acts. Just by defining violence gave me insight on how the world views certain practices and social processes; I could see that some normal practices that are fully accepted by our society may be embodiments of violence.

For example, disciplining your children may be viewed as violence. Spanking, berating, getting angry at your child may constitute to violence using my definition because these cause some form of harm to the child. Though parents and society would say that discipline is part of guiding the child, techniques involved in administering discipline may be considered violent acts. This then poses a question to me. The alternative to not disciplining your children would involve letting them do whatever they want.

This could result in untoward incidents and possible harm to the child. Clearly, society places more importance in the benefit of this form of violence than the cause of a child’s temporary hurt feelings. Does this mean some forms of violence are necessary? That for society to continue to survive and continue to socialize its new participants, some forms of violence should be used and that total nonviolence of society is not possible? A Day of Social Justice When thinking of social justice, the concept of race, gender, class, and equality immediately comes to mind.

The dynamics of dominant groups and weaker groups comes to mind as well, as social justice would involve the interplay within these groups and the mere presence of them. In this activity, I saw immigration rules as to be a product of social injustice. The differences between citizens of different countries around the world showed me that social injustices were in fact institutionalized and systematic norms and rules in society. This meant that governments, schools, and other formal institutions recognized that some groups should be controlled and the others should be given less restrictions.

The bases for these restrictions were usually socially determined by misconceptions, generalizations, and wide intolerance of cultures other than theirs. The distinctions of race, class, and gender and the barriers and divides that these create are what usually produce difficult social situations and conditions for women, Asians, Afro-Americans, Latinos, and the poor (Davis, 1992). Trying to instill social justice in even the simplest things such as getting in line, shopping, and talking to other people meant forgetting about apparent and obvious differences between people.

The color of one’s skin, the money in one’s pocket, the country where one was born does indeed produce differences that cannot be ignored by society. However, the treatment of society to these people should be reexamined to promote cultural diversity and not to force them to accept certain norms and rules imposed by dominant groups. In truth, I think that the distinctions of race, class, and gender are purely socially-constructed. Things could have gone the other way around and the dominant groups were the weaker ones if history was different. Social justice can only be attained through acceptance.

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