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NPR 11-09:The Presumption of Decency 得体,我的为人之本

时间:2008-06-20 08:07来源:互联网 提供网友:wshqye   字体: [ ]
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Those aggressive drivers or dreadful waiters you meet may not be terrible people after all, says Harvard economist1 Edward Glaeser. He believes we should presume more decency2 in our fellow humans

Welcome to This I Believe -- an NPR series presenting the personal philosophies of remarkable3 men and women from all walks of life.

I believe in mystery
I believe in family.
I believe in being who I am.
I believe in the power of failure.
And I believe normal life is extraordinary.

This I believe. I'm Jay Allison for This I Believe. Edward Glaeser is a professor of economics at Harvard. His work has included research on political extremism and how hatred4 arises among different groups particularly hatred which has little basis in truth. He says that economists5 don't tend to think of themselves as moral arbiters6, and in fact it is in the reticence7 about judging others that he finds his belief. Here's Edward Glaeser with his essay for This I Believe.

I believe in the presumption8 of decency.

While I like to think of myself as being as rational as an economist should be, I can get a little miffed at minor9 offenses10 that somehow appear to me, momentarily, as great villainy. In some of my more embarrassing moments, I've come to see law-abiding and therefore slow cab drivers as violators of the basic standards of taxicab decency, which, in my haste, I have convinced myself demand utterly12 breakneck speed.

While my retribution may be limited to cutting their tips from 15 percent to 13.25 percent, I have then spent the next hour furious at the cab driver, his dispatcher, his country of origin, and pretty much anything else in my way. Sadly, I have also privately13 vilified14 editors who have rejected my research, restaurants that haven't taken my reservations and even politicians who have had the audacity15 to push policies that I oppose. This is the type of folly16 that can be avoided with the presumption of decency.

Academics can be a little arrogant17, and I am certainly among those who are quite comfortable thinking that I am right and that someone else is wrong. But it is one thing to think that someone else is misled and another to think that they are evil. We don't hate the merely annoying or the purely18 pathetic. Hatred starts by believing someone to be a villain11 without decency. And hatred is a pretty good emotion to avoid. It is personally painful to hate. Hatred clouds our judgment19 and can lead us to make spiteful decisions that do no one any good.

There is a personal value — the presumption of decency — that counteracts20 the tendency to let hatred befuddle21 our reason. If we hold tightly to the view that people around us are as decent as ourselves, trying, like us, to muddle22 honorably through life, it is harder to turn them into villains23 and to turn ourselves into creatures of irrational24 judgment. Besides, I'm certainly no more decent than most of mankind.

The presumption of decency is not naiveté. Instead, it requires a certain amount of realism. If you expect perfection, you will spend your days being furious at irresponsible teenage babysitters and equally irresponsible politicians. A better approach is to recognize human frailty25 and to be generous in our judgments26. Today's political dialogues could particularly benefit from the recognition that both parties are led by imperfect but not terrible people, whose mistaken policies are more often the result of error than evil.

I don't always succeed in presuming the decency of others, but I do my best. Like most people, I'm pretty flawed but trying to be decent, and I'm trying to believe the same about others.

Edward Glaeser, with his essay for This I Believe. Glaeser said he began thinking about this essay last year after the death of his father, who lived in Nazi27 Germany and was exposed to evil in its most extreme forms, and yet even after that Glaeser says his father had the mature wisdom to be moderate in his moral judgments about other individuals. We welcome essays from everyone for our series at npr.org/thisibelieve. You can find out more see all the essays we've aired and that have been submitted. For This I Believe. I'm Jay Allison.

This I Believe is independently produced by Jay Allison, Dan Gediman,John Gregory and Vicki Merrick with Emily Botein.

Support for NPR comes from Prudential Retirement28, sponsor of This I Believe. Prudential believes every worker can achieve a more secure retirement. Prudential Retirement, where beliefs matter.

Support for This I Believe comes from the Cooperation for Public Broadcasting.

This I Believe is produced for NPR by This I Believe Incorporated Atlantic Public Media. For more essays in the series, please visit npr.org/thisibelieve.

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 economist AuhzVs     
n.经济学家,经济专家,节俭的人
参考例句:
  • He cast a professional economist's eyes on the problem.他以经济学行家的眼光审视这个问题。
  • He's an economist who thinks he knows all the answers.他是个经济学家,自以为什么都懂。
2 decency Jxzxs     
n.体面,得体,合宜,正派,庄重
参考例句:
  • His sense of decency and fair play made him refuse the offer.他的正直感和公平竞争意识使他拒绝了这一提议。
  • Your behaviour is an affront to public decency.你的行为有伤风化。
3 remarkable 8Vbx6     
adj.显著的,异常的,非凡的,值得注意的
参考例句:
  • She has made remarkable headway in her writing skills.她在写作技巧方面有了长足进步。
  • These cars are remarkable for the quietness of their engines.这些汽车因发动机没有噪音而不同凡响。
4 hatred T5Gyg     
n.憎恶,憎恨,仇恨
参考例句:
  • He looked at me with hatred in his eyes.他以憎恨的眼光望着我。
  • The old man was seized with burning hatred for the fascists.老人对法西斯主义者充满了仇恨。
5 economists 2ba0a36f92d9c37ef31cc751bca1a748     
n.经济学家,经济专家( economist的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • The sudden rise in share prices has confounded economists. 股价的突然上涨使经济学家大惑不解。
  • Foreign bankers and economists cautiously welcomed the minister's initiative. 外国银行家和经济学家对部长的倡议反应谨慎。 来自《简明英汉词典》
6 arbiters 002fb01970e06cc858b3b1184ec6c15a     
仲裁人,裁决者( arbiter的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • In the forensicfield, the final arbiters of quality are the courts. 在法医学领域,质量的最后仲裁者是法庭。
  • They are, increasingly, arbiters of which types of borrowers get credit. 它们正越来越多地充当决定哪几种借款人可获得信贷的裁决人角色。
7 reticence QWixF     
n.沉默,含蓄
参考例句:
  • He breaks out of his normal reticence and tells me the whole story.他打破了平时一贯沈默寡言的习惯,把事情原原本本都告诉了我。
  • He always displays a certain reticence in discussing personal matters.他在谈论个人问题时总显得有些保留。
8 presumption XQcxl     
n.推测,可能性,冒昧,放肆,[法律]推定
参考例句:
  • Please pardon my presumption in writing to you.请原谅我很冒昧地写信给你。
  • I don't think that's a false presumption.我认为那并不是错误的推测。
9 minor e7fzR     
adj.较小(少)的,较次要的;n.辅修学科;vi.辅修
参考例句:
  • The young actor was given a minor part in the new play.年轻的男演员在这出新戏里被分派担任一个小角色。
  • I gave him a minor share of my wealth.我把小部分财产给了他。
10 offenses 4bfaaba4d38a633561a0153eeaf73f91     
n.进攻( offense的名词复数 );(球队的)前锋;进攻方法;攻势
参考例句:
  • It's wrong of you to take the child to task for such trifling offenses. 因这类小毛病责备那孩子是你的不对。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Thus, Congress cannot remove an executive official except for impeachable offenses. 因此,除非有可弹劾的行为,否则国会不能罢免行政官员。 来自英汉非文学 - 行政法
11 villain ZL1zA     
n.反派演员,反面人物;恶棍;问题的起因
参考例句:
  • He was cast as the villain in the play.他在戏里扮演反面角色。
  • The man who played the villain acted very well.扮演恶棍的那个男演员演得很好。
12 utterly ZfpzM1     
adv.完全地,绝对地
参考例句:
  • Utterly devoted to the people,he gave his life in saving his patients.他忠于人民,把毕生精力用于挽救患者的生命。
  • I was utterly ravished by the way she smiled.她的微笑使我完全陶醉了。
13 privately IkpzwT     
adv.以私人的身份,悄悄地,私下地
参考例句:
  • Some ministers admit privately that unemployment could continue to rise.一些部长私下承认失业率可能继续升高。
  • The man privately admits that his motive is profits.那人私下承认他的动机是为了牟利。
14 vilified fbd35e9dae25d8a1cf13da5adee55a26     
v.中伤,诽谤( vilify的过去式和过去分词 )
参考例句:
  • He was vilified in newspapers. 他在报纸上受到了诽谤。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • She was vilified by the press for her controversial views. 因她持有异议,新闻界对她横加挞伐。 来自互联网
15 audacity LepyV     
n.大胆,卤莽,无礼
参考例句:
  • He had the audacity to ask for an increase in salary.他竟然厚着脸皮要求增加薪水。
  • He had the audacity to pick pockets in broad daylight.他竟敢在光天化日之下掏包。
16 folly QgOzL     
n.愚笨,愚蠢,蠢事,蠢行,傻话
参考例句:
  • Learn wisdom by the folly of others.从别人的愚蠢行动中学到智慧。
  • Events proved the folly of such calculations.事情的进展证明了这种估计是愚蠢的。
17 arrogant Jvwz5     
adj.傲慢的,自大的
参考例句:
  • You've got to get rid of your arrogant ways.你这骄傲劲儿得好好改改。
  • People are waking up that he is arrogant.人们开始认识到他很傲慢。
18 purely 8Sqxf     
adv.纯粹地,完全地
参考例句:
  • I helped him purely and simply out of friendship.我帮他纯粹是出于友情。
  • This disproves the theory that children are purely imitative.这证明认为儿童只会单纯地模仿的理论是站不住脚的。
19 judgment e3xxC     
n.审判;判断力,识别力,看法,意见
参考例句:
  • The chairman flatters himself on his judgment of people.主席自认为他审视人比别人高明。
  • He's a man of excellent judgment.他眼力过人。
20 counteracts 63ce8aebfaf0be5708aafd06ca84b3c1     
对抗,抵消( counteract的第三人称单数 )
参考例句:
  • The drug counteracts the effects of the poison. 这种药可抵消毒物的作用。
  • Offset Something that balances, counteracts, or compensates the effects of another thing. 弥补用来平衡、抵消或偿还另一财物的东西。
21 befuddle tN0zJ     
v.使混乱
参考例句:
  • This is clearly designed to befuddle the public.这显然是为了蒙蔽舆论。
  • Don't befuddle me with all those masses of detail.不要拿一大堆琐事把我搞迷糊。
22 muddle d6ezF     
n.困惑,混浊状态;vt.使混乱,使糊涂,使惊呆;vi.胡乱应付,混乱
参考例句:
  • Everything in the room was in a muddle.房间里每一件东西都是乱七八糟的。
  • Don't work in a rush and get into a muddle.克服忙乱现象。
23 villains ffdac080b5dbc5c53d28520b93dbf399     
n.恶棍( villain的名词复数 );罪犯;(小说、戏剧等中的)反面人物;淘气鬼
参考例句:
  • The impression of villains was inescapable. 留下恶棍的印象是不可避免的。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Some villains robbed the widow of the savings. 有几个歹徒将寡妇的积蓄劫走了。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
24 irrational UaDzl     
adj.无理性的,失去理性的
参考例句:
  • After taking the drug she became completely irrational.她在吸毒后变得完全失去了理性。
  • There are also signs of irrational exuberance among some investors.在某些投资者中是存在非理性繁荣的征象的。
25 frailty 468ym     
n.脆弱;意志薄弱
参考例句:
  • Despite increasing physical frailty,he continued to write stories.尽管身体越来越虛弱,他仍然继续写小说。
  • He paused and suddenly all the frailty and fatigue showed.他顿住了,虚弱与疲惫一下子显露出来。
26 judgments 2a483d435ecb48acb69a6f4c4dd1a836     
判断( judgment的名词复数 ); 鉴定; 评价; 审判
参考例句:
  • A peculiar austerity marked his judgments of modern life. 他对现代生活的批评带着一种特殊的苛刻。
  • He is swift with his judgments. 他判断迅速。
27 Nazi BjXyF     
n.纳粹分子,adj.纳粹党的,纳粹的
参考例句:
  • They declare the Nazi regime overthrown and sue for peace.他们宣布纳粹政权已被推翻,并出面求和。
  • Nazi closes those war criminals inside their concentration camp.纳粹把那些战犯关在他们的集中营里。
28 retirement TWoxH     
n.退休,退职
参考例句:
  • She wanted to enjoy her retirement without being beset by financial worries.她想享受退休生活而不必为金钱担忧。
  • I have to put everything away for my retirement.我必须把一切都积蓄起来以便退休后用。
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TAG标签:   npr  公共电台  presumption  decency 
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