But there is a yet more weighty objection to hedonism of any kind: theso-called ‘experience machine’. Imagine that I have amachine that I could plug you into for the rest of your life. Thismachine would give you experiences of whatever kind you thought mostvaluable or enjoyable—writing a great novel, bringing aboutworld peace, attending an early Rolling Stones’ gig. You would notknow you were on the machine, and there is no worry about its breakingdown or whatever. Would you plug in? Would it be wise, from the pointof your own well-being, to do so? Robert Nozick thinks it would be abig mistake to plug in: ‘We want to do certain things …we want to be a certain way … plugging into an experiencemachine limits us to a man-made reality’ (Nozick 1974,p. 43).
Low-income students who play in the orchestra or band are more than twice as likely to perform at the highest levels in math as peers who do not play music. In James Catterall's well-known longitudinal study, , low-income students at arts-rich high schools were more than twice as likely to earn a B.A. as low-income students at arts-poor high schools.
But this does not chime with my own experience. When I donate blood,this feels to me like a sacrifice. But when I visit the dentist, itfeels to me just as if I am weighing present pains againstpotential future pains. And we can weigh different components ofwell-being against one another. Consider a case in which you areoffered a job which is highly paid but many miles away from your friends andfamily.
Scanlon denies that we need an account of well-being to understandbenevolence, since we do not have a general duty of benevolence, butmerely duties to benefit others in specific ways, such as to relievetheir pain. But, from the philosophical perspective, it may be quiteuseful to use the heading of ‘benevolence’ in order togroup such duties. And, again, comparisons may be important: if Ihave several pro tanto duties of benevolence, not all ofwhich can be fulfilled, I shall have to weigh the various benefitsI can provide against one another. And here the notion of well-beingwill again come into play.
Further, if morality includes so-called ’imperfect’ dutiesto benefit others, that is, duties that allow the agent somediscretion as to when and how to assist, the lack of any overarchingconception of well-being is likely to make the fulfillment of suchduties problematic.
And it now looks as though they want Archer to have certain equipment to work on daily and we will need a space that he can get to, so we need to move on the garage rehab project. It will be a bit awkward certainly in the winter as Archer will need to power chair himself around the block and into the garage, but it’s the best we can do and we shall do it. He is good with it, indeed looking forward to it. But Archer is looking forward to everything. He is amazing.
I got to Archer’s feet and could see right away the cause of this AD. Many things bring on Autonomic Dysreflexia, a condition experienced almost solely by people who cannot move their bodies, and ingrown toenails are a big culprit. I felt myself move from the fear and questioning about his back, then the bafflement of the supra pub to outright anger about his toes.
Why were they not attended to? I snapped.
I have asked repeatedly for a podiatrist because you will not clip his toes. I was told I should not. The podiatrist KKI has on contract came, took a look, and said, it’s not necessary that he was called.
Bull crap on that.
Any paying attention person would know that toenails and fingernails are always important and when he has no feeling and good blood flow, I was concerned and put out that he was not. I asked again for a podiatrist but he did not come. I suppose he thought it was the family who was calling him unnecessarily. Well, Archer’s toes looked bad to me.
He does very well when upright.
While they had removed most of his clothing, he wasn’t getting better. They had done all they thought they could and were just watching him. No! No watching. Get him in the sling for the lift and into his power chair.
That’s what we did, and he began to stabilize. He was pretty wiped out. That was a not good one.
Once in the chair, I asked has anyone done a body scan of Arch to see how his skin is doing. After all, from my being away to the snowstorm, it had been five days.
As I told staff about the latest incident, Archer’s pillow, taken right off his bed, off the bed of a quadriplegic, they said nothing. I could feel myself escalating. I went out to the front desk and said, So, all of you, I know you know that Archer has lost a number of things as you say, in the wash. Well, now someone has removed his pillow from his bed. We didn’t ask for it to be washed. But is it perhaps in the wash? Did anyone check for us? Does anyone care?
There was silence.
So, I was able finally to return to KKI on Sunday, as I hiked out from our house where the roads were still not cleared, to a main thoroughfare and Billy was able to meet me, having navigated on the few through streets downtown. We were some of the only cars out. I drove very very carefully. It took a few hours for our round trip car swap escapade. When I walked into Archer’s room, he was still in bed, and was in the throws of an AD episode. His blood pressure was on the rise, 154, 168, then 188 systolic. It was moving fast and his distress was high. He was sweating profusely. They were discussing giving him nitroglycerine. It looked as though his clothes had been loosened and his TEDS pressure stockings had been removed. He was lying flat and they said, Let’s wait and see.
No, I said. He needs to be out of that bed!
And then I realized that by whatever method, some kind of thought through approach is really important when a project or task is really so huge. Conflict resolution is like that. I thought about that too. I had the whole front of our house, then the sidewalks that extended across our property to our neighbors’ on either side, then a path to my car, then my car, then the decks to the house, and how I would ever get to them with the snow packed so high against the doors. But as I cleared each 3×3 space and one area lead to the next and so one, it was quite rewarding and I might add, quite hopeful. When I first began, I felt a sinking, how will I do this? And as the method was refined after some time and attempts, I found new energy and it did not feel so daunting. And that is exactly how very large conflict resolution can be as well. You need and overall strategy but you begin removing barriers to smaller more manageable things and then building from there, tweaking and returning to refine. I enjoyed my interior six hours.
Others may disagree with me and that’s ok, but it’s a rare mother who behave this way. And it makes me sad. We have such a privilege to model the best we can be for our kids. You know, there is now a fairly good amount of emphasis on empowering girls, at least in American society and we have come a long way, of course we have a ways to go. I had a concentration in Women’s Studies at UVA out of the 1970’s and soaked up history about women and oppression and glory. All that said, I think we are a pivotal time for focusing on the quality modeling for boys and of young men. They often ironically get left behind in understanding their true nature. Having four sons, I may not be an expert on boys, but I do know boys fairly well. And they are tender and have fragile egos and are strong and resilient. Just like girls. But they are not like girls. They are different. And if I have thought how important it is to give them environments where they can learn humility and inner confidence, good manners for others born out of respect for themselves. How are boys to respect themselves if given a diet of play dirty, hurt others and do anything to prevail, when doing so really goes against human nature. More importantly, it probably perpetuates date violence and a lot of other harmful things. I know I am perhaps in a minority on these views, but maybe not. I’m curious as to your views. So, these were the kinds of things I was thinking about as I shoveled snow for six hours.