Introduction: Your ‘favorite’
Asking someone to reduce an experience to a “favorite” or a “best”, does that person and others a great disfavor. I wrote about that here where I discuss how after a 1 month vacation, people asked my son “What was the favorite thing you did?”
Some of the problems with this sort of question are:
- Reducing many experiences to one experience
- Nursing the mind set that exciting is best
- Emphasizing that events matter more than relationships
- Teaching that we can summarize richness
- Encouraging a “collector-of-best-experiences” mentality — a consumerist mentality.
I’m sure you can think of more. This is a disdainful type of reductionism at best — and dangerously common. This is a part of curse of secular culture which I dislike. But I realize my intuitions are odd.
Sure, such questions seem harmless, but it is the myriad of seemingly harmless things that we do that turn us into what we may not wish to become.
So, to help gain a little more insight into our habitual “favorite” types of questions, I made today’s little pie post.
Breakfast with my Daughter
This morning my daughter and I went out for a Daughter-Father Breakfast. At our table was a picture of the six different pies they offered for dessert. My daughter, a food lover, innocently asked, “Dad, which one of those is your favorite?”. To which I relied:
“Honey, let’s make the question more interesting. Let’s imagine two situations.
Situation 1: You find out that tomorrow the world will end and this meal now will be your last meal. You get to chose the last piece of pie you will ever eat.
Situation 2: Unfortunately you get put in prison for the rest of you life. You are told you that during all your years in prison you will have desert each night and it will consist of a piece of pie. But it will be the same type of pie every night.
So, honey, which pie would you choose for the two situations?”
I won’t tell you my daughter’s choices. But why not play with us. For this hypothetical game, choose from the six pies above (sorry that your “favorite” may not be there).
Now tell us if your Last-Meal Pie choice and your Same-Daily Pie choice would be the same.
Can you see how broadening one favorite to even just two different kinds of favorites is helpful? Now imagine all sorts of other favorites. Have mercy on pies — don’t whittle them down to favorites! Have mercy on your experiences too!
Questions for readers:
- What are your rationalizations for your pie choices above?
- Has my rants about “favorites” changed your thoughts about the word in the least?