Tim’s Two Cents: Reaction Vs. Response

There is a reason I don’t watch political pundits on television: most simply act as reactionaries for their declared side. There is a reason they call paramedics “first responders” (I can only imagine how terrible life would be if we had to be rescued by “first reactors”). My point is this: at every level of social, political, and professional interaction there is a tension between the urge to react and the intellectual wherewithal to form a response.

Reaction is easy and therein lays the problem. It is an animalistic mechanism designed to help with survival and oftentimes it can function free of logic. When upsetting circumstances arise, the first response may be to do something brash, offensive, or generally disagreeable. As a community of academics, my hope is that our campus would not be a place of incendiary reaction.

It is logic that sets us apart from the animals, and it is logic that demands that we not take “the easy way” offered by reaction. Reaction manifests itself in several ways. Most commonly I have seen complaining as a responsive mechanism that is pervasive on campus. Rather than formulating a way to tackle assignments, it is far easier to just complain about the workload.

Mastering the art of “response” is a lifelong endeavor. However, if the concept of formulating a response before acting was universal, then the evening news would only be filled with stories about the weather. The truth is that reaction is here to stay, despite the overtly negative consequences that come from living in a state of instinctive reciprocal action. This may not be bad when faced with a bear in the woods, but in the context of a modern society the need for well-thought response is paramount.

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