I just got an incredibly snotty email.
One of my professors gave an assignment that was rather unclear, asking us to make an outline for revising a paper we have written that we haven't gotten feedback on yet. I didn't email the man asking for clarification, but apparently a decent proportation of my 80-member class did.
He wrote an email that basically said that he wouldn't be around to help us revise any drafts we might write for the final and strongly implying that the people who wanted extra guidance weren't taking responsiblity for their work. It's all about "character," you see.
Character my ass.
My response, if I may say so, was blistering. I pointed out the fundamental attribution error inherent in making judgements about people's characters based on their behavior during the first semester of law school. I said that the people who kept asking for clarification weren't lazy, they were scared. And I get that, because I may be more apt to try and figure things out for myself, but I'm scared, too. All of us are borrowing $120,000 and betting it on our own ability to succeed and when professors are vague about what they want, that is legitimately terrifying.
It was too mean. I wrote another, shorter draft. I sent both to a friend.
Would the professor get over it if I sent it to him? Probably. And the comments he made were over the line. I could send it and my legal career would survive. Our exams are anonymous. Hell, my friends would think it was pretty cool.
But I stepped back from the computer. I thought. I got a drink of water. I did some work. And the anger started to burn away. My friend emailed me back, saying not to send either e-mail, but by then I'd already decided I wouldn't.
I was left with the sad realization that I didn't want to be the person who sent the rant. I was offended. I did take what he said personally and his bringing character into it really seemed gratuitous and judgemental. But I just didn't want to be that person. Buddhism doesn't usually come to mind, but I found myself thinking of the concept of right speech.
The idea of self-purification through well chosen words is appealing to me today, and the idea that two wrongs don't make a right.
So I'm sitting here now, the emails saved far from my e-mail account, and I don't have a sense of destruction. When I rant at somebody, particularly in a nasty and private way, it feels good. The moment of fouling a relationship with someone who deserves it is always a great relief.
But now I'm in the moment after, and this moment after is better.
Off to school.