What do we call ‘rational’?
If you are from the Netherlands, rationality will most likely have a positive connotation in your mind. Being rational means considering all the options available and choosing the most efficient one. You are efficient if you have not been influenced by your feelings. So, does it mean that the one who follows his heart and cannot clearly explain his choice is irrational? The second question is: is it really so bad to be irrational?
Following your heart, if it is not out of the proportion, of course, is seen in Russia as a valid argument. We are more ‘spiritual’ compared to the Dutch culture. By spiritual I mean a belief in life after death and so on forth. If you believe it, then you would also believe that some choices are meant to be made, whether by a goodwill of your ancestors above you or in a broad sense in a universe as a whole. Of course, we take into account both positive and negative sides of a particular decision, but we also listen to our heart.
I would like to share with you an interesting theory of a lady, who is, unlike most of the Dutch that I have met, is a spiritual person. She thinks that it has to do with the fact that she is originally from the very South of the Netherlands, namely Roermond. For Dutch among us, is she right? Are there really spiritual difference between the Northern and Southern parts of the Netherlands? Maybe this could be a next theme for our article!
So, back to her theory. Long time ago Europe was known for its witch hunting. Who were ‘witches’? Witches believed in spirits and lived in harmony with nature. In the view of those who burnt them, their behavior was most likely seen as irrational. The whole race of spiritual people has thus distinguished. Spiritual subjects were forgotten and disappeared away at large. Russian history did not know any witch hunting and burning. Our ancient religion of paganism was changed to Christianity, but our spiritual heritage stayed with us.
The way you are perceived by others as rational or not also depends on your personality. Some people are more organised than others. To be organised one individual has to sit and consider all the pros and cons of a particular problem, and probably write them down. Others think about a solution in their head and come to the good one, without an ability to be able to clearly explain why the choice that was made is more reasonable. Researchers have also divided people into classes, concerning their personality types. According to the The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, there are ‘thinkers’ and ‘feelers’ among us. None of us is better than the other: we are just different!
Not objective image
Lastly, reasonable is not always good. For instance, it is said in Russia that fighting ISIS is rational. However, it is always a question of proper argumentation. Yes, terror is bad. However, it is not rational to spend enormous funds on endless war, putting your own country at a larger risk (after Russian troops have been sent to Syria, a considerable amount of attacks by so called ISIS fighters occurred inside and outside Russia against innocent people). For me, war in itself does not sound right. It could be justified to be reasonable as such, but my inner self says ‘no’. Therefore, I have learned to listen to my heart first and try to deduce the hidden propaganda of my government when it tries to convince me that doing something is ‘reasonable’.
What I want to say with this article
An automatic positive connotation should not be given to the word rational right away. The way you perceive something as rational differs per culture and your personal traits. Russians are in general different from the Dutch. However, both inside the same culture we are different. We are both thinkers and feelers. Being one does not mean being better.
More about the notion of being reasonable:
More about personality types:
Written by Anna Grigorjeva