Small spat over at Pink Tape when familoo wrote about a children’s guardian who had said to the lawyers in a case, “Don’t you EVER think about the kids?” In her post familoo joked that if she really hated children she’s go and be a teacher. This brought down on her head severe criticism from a couple of commenters who, completely missing the humour, were incensed that she should even suggest that teachers are anything except perpetually loving and caring towards their pupils. I must say my own experience as a school child do not bear out the idea of the ever-loving teacher, rather the reverse, but that was a very long time ago.
In the family courts it is common to see two clearly capable and loving parents each accusing the other of being uncaring and irresponsible as they quarrel over which of them should (or rather should not) have custody of their child. It is less common for professionals to fall out among themselves on the same sort of ‘I care more than you do’ basis. Even the lay combatant, taking their teeth out of their opponent for a moment, can sometimes appreciate that professional disinterestedness and objectivity can lead to better decisions than blindly passionate engagement.
Unfortunately the virtues of disinterestedness and objectivity seem to be challenged on all sides. Passion, commitment, engagement and expression of strong emotion are increasingly admired, not only in the Family Courts but in politics, in foreign policy and by a myriad of pressure groups. Global warming, endangered species, and perhaps most of all celebrities, from Diana to Jordan demand our complete, unthinking and fanatic devotion. No wonder that even the professionals are starting to become infected with the idea that those who feel most strongly (or at least claim to) are in the right and that the professional task today is to think less, become passionate, display much more feeling and emote all over the place.