Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Busy" (Hospitality Fatality)

    I’m tempted to post a sign on my office door: “This office does not support the use of the word ‘busy.’”
    First, let me explain the subject and verb. A few years ago, I received email responses from Institutional Computing personnel that began with, “This office does not support the use of…” It struck me as a diplomatic but also, officious strategy for saying, “We won’t allow…”
    Now, to the crux of this hospitality rant. When did the world stop realizing that the question “How are you?” is only phatic conversation and not a sincere query? When did the world begin to respond in detail, prefacing lengthy explanations with, “I’m so busy…”? or worse…”I’m too busy.”? What are the inhospitable subtexts of this seemingly innocent assertion of being "busy"?
    Inhospitality subtext #1: "I'm far busier than you are." But how could said “I” be busier than Hospitality Morality--the vanguard of global hospitality? And even if said "I" is the leader of the free(ish) world, is it polite to brag, sigh, or rant about it? Being busy is like being sick. Rarely does anyone else care.
    Inhospitality subtext #2: "I'm more important than you. Honestly, we all know that “busy,” is code for “important.” “I’m so busy” is a thinly disguised taunt of "I’m so important,” which doubles as a challenge.
    Faithful readers, it is our duty to counter these inhospitable attacks with a lesson: nothing is more important than the work of hospitality morality. Consider that every human encounter and relationship--public and private--revolves around the reward, power, intrigue, protection, and risk of hospitality. Every single face-to-face; voice-to-voice; and even, text-to-text hinges on hospitality. And if we are hospitable, we are peaceful, generous, curious, tolerant, and charitable. In short, if everyone acted hospitably, we would eliminate all major problems—aggression, hunger, homelessness, global warming, ennui, and prejudices—with the possible exception of really bad diseases. As such, we can imagine no nobler calling than to investigate, understand, and practice hospitality. Let us go forth and educate the "busy."
    Henceforth, please, be advised that in all future conversations, HM does not support the use of the word “busy.”
Look for an upcoming Hospitality Fatality on "I'm so stressed."

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"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - from A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf