Monday, November 9, 2015

More on Those "Haters"

Several weeks ago I mentioned how everyone loves to accuse opponents of being haters.  When someone opposes something or denies “rights” they are automatically labeled.  Not only is this opposite of the spirit of the behavioral model, where we address the actions and not the person, it is also often far from accurate and certainly not constructive.

Consider how people ordinarily act toward people they hate.  Do they see the object of their hatred making mistakes and try to step in to correct those mistakes, or do they rejoice at the fact that those they hate are making mistakes and will face the consequences in the future?  The logical answer is the latter.  They want to see the people they hate fail.  

If you see a loved one smoking or abusing drugs, you try to help them quit, knowing that what they are doing now will likely catch up to them in the long run.  That opposition is not an act of hatred.  Although the constant nagging may not seem like love to the person with the problem, it’s not inspired by hate; it’s just the wrong approach.  Likewise, parents tell their children to wait until they’ve eaten their meal before having dessert because they love them and want them to stay healthy.  They deny their children the opportunity to make the mistakes and develop bad habits.  Certainly they are not cooperating with their children’s wishes, but their motive is not hateful.

This logic easily applies to family and friends, but what of strangers?  Strangely enough, some people believe that God has ordered them to take this busybody approach to the decisions of others.  Find in the Old Testament, Book of Ezekiel, for example:  “When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked, you must die,’ and you do not speak up to warn the wicked about their ways, they shall die in their sins, but I will hold you responsible for their blood.  If, however, you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, but they do not, then they shall die in their sins, but you shall save your life.”  (So, some actions of interference or denial may be cases of doing one's duty or trying to avoid future punishment rather than of hate.)

Think about the people who protest, like those outside abortion clinics or those who oppose same-sex marriage or Occupy Wall Street.  No question some of these people are filled with hate, but I would guess it is not a majority.  Most of these people think they are doing the right thing.  They take their stance based on their values or their understanding of how the world works (or should work).  They are trying to make things better and prevent other people from making mistakes that they will pay for in this life or the next.  This can hardly be considered hateful.

Before jumping to the conclusion about motives, or accepting the opinions of others about motives of an individual or a group, it’s important to think about the situation carefully.  Opposition does not usually spring from hating.

That’s why the behavioral model demands that we deal with behavior only.  Attribution of any motive is unacceptable and a waste of time.  We don’t fire an employee for a bad attitude; we fire an employee because, after numerous attempts to correct the situation, he failed to behave as required.  It makes no sense to try to attribute the failure to attitude or any other personal attribute.  The behavior is unacceptable.

Likewise, if we dismiss political or personal disagreements by assigning motives or labels, we are wasting time and have not moved forward in resolving the disagreement.  Of course, in today’s society it seems that the only resolution sought is one of bullying the opposition into submission with personal attacks and accusations – I win, you lose, problem solved!  But the real problem remains.  That’s why without the behavioral model America will continue it’s downward slide.

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