Other Public Commentary
WHY DOES MAN NEED GOD ANYHOW?
By Bill Champion
Human proclivities that cause self destruction and corrupt society
In 1892 the supreme court of the United States concluded, after a ten-year search of documents and evidence, that this is a Christian nation. The case was, School of the Holy Trinity v. United States. But, in the past century that court and others have done their worst to change that. The result has been that behavioral standards and inhibitors essential to society’s survival have been removed or seriously diluted. As a consequence man’s proclivities for self destructive behavior have been unloosed on society. And a “cultural war” is raging within this nation. If we fail to heed the serious signals that are crying for our attention and to change our behavior, we are not going to survive as a free republic!!!
Those are indeed strong assertions; but, they are factual. The Bible, God’s manual for man’s survival, has been effectively removed from public venues. It instructs us in Jeremiah 17: 5, 9, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart departs from the Lord. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Our founders used this scripture as a basic principle for constructing a republic composed of checks and balances in three departments in effort to contain the dark proclivities of man.
The point is that people who do not place God first in all things are in danger of becoming “loose cannons” in society. They become victims of their own proclivities. And society, everybody’s neighbors, becomes the ultimate victim. So, let’s examine some of those proclivities. In brief they are:
· The propensity to choose feelings over reason;
· The ignoring of or denying the obvious;
· The rationalization of unintelligent and destructive behavior; (Typically, one egregious event or circumstance is referred to as justification for another egregious circumstance. E.g., the high divorce rate among heterosexuals is referred to by gay activists in effort to justify and gain acceptance of gay marriage, which is genocidal.)
· And, most importantly, the proclivity to ignore or marginalize the consequences of destructive behavior, which has awesome implications.
Now, that’s a real “mouthful” of words; but it is just a more detailed way of explaining how and why human beings behave stupidly at times. And worse yet, they persist in pursuing such behavior in the face of obvious evidence that it is destroying their lives, and the well being of their neighbors. I expect that everybody is familiar with this; and some may term it “human nature.” But, it is obvious that everybody doesn’t know the specifics of why such behavior happens and how to recognize them in the context of navigating one’s way through complicated arguments and political demagoguery that pervades the secular world.
The faithful would say that man has a “sin nature” in effort to explain man’s propensities to make dumb choices that wreck his life and future. But using the word “sin” invokes a religious connotation, and evokes a reaction in the secular world that blocks interest in any fruitful and helpful dialogue. The word seems to be a “turn off.” The thrust here is to explain the behavioral proclivities that make man vulnerable to dumb choices and, if you will, to accept sin as a natural “way of life” and insist that it is a “civil right.”
Two Simple Questions
Identify the Activity-oriented
In examining the specifics and how the above proclivities manifest themselves in everyday behavior, my observations as a management consultant in evaluating and developing competent managers are helpful. The late Dr. N.R.F. Maier, prof. of Psychology, Univ. of Mich., and I developed a management performance planning and review system that proved very diagnostic of human propensities. The system exposed a startling fact: Over 95% of the managers studied were activity-oriented as opposed to result-oriented. In other words, they were focused on the activities of their jobs with minimal understanding or concern for the results they were responsible for producing. This type of manager is the most likely to become a “caretaker” and to polish the brass while the ship sinks. Keep in mind that those managers were supposedly trained in their profession, but still exhibited the above proclivities.
As an important part of evaluating performance, a questionnaire was given unit managers in a division of a large food service company which asked two simple questions: First, “What results are you responsible for?” And, second, “How do you know when you have achieved those results?” In spite of specific instructions telling the subjects not to describe their activities, activities were all that were listed. And their efforts to describe how they measured their performance were seldom relevant to their list of activities. Incredible, but, true.
In brief, they were asked to describe “what they were responsible for getting DONE. But they responded by describing only what they did, and couldn’t evaluate that in relation to the purposes for which their jobs existed. For example, in one group less than half listed customer satisfaction as one of their responsibilities. And later, when asked, “How do you know, on a real-time basis, if your customers are satisfied?”, they had great difficulty in coming up with indicators that would answer that question. It was no surprise that the division in which those managers were employed was operating unprofitably.
The Questions Aren’t Easy
If the reader thinks this propensity is unusual and overemphasized, think how you would respond to those simple questions. What are you responsible for getting done in your job; your marriage; your children’s’ lives; your neighbors’ welfare??? What you do should depend on and be guided by how well you define what you are responsible for getting done! That sounds simple enough, right? But activity-oriented persons find these questions most difficult to answer because they can’t initially discern the difference between an activity and a result. When asked to define in writing their result accountabilities they invariably begin with an active verb. E.g.: “Increase sales; decrease costs,” which are, of course, activities, not well-defined and measurable result statements.
To further illustrate how difficult it can be to answer these “simple queries”: How would you respond to the question, “What are you responsible for getting DONE with your life? That’s a very difficult question to answer. Most people have never even thought of that question, much less tried to answer it. If they attempt an answer at all it usually try to decide what they want to do with their life. There is a crucial difference in determining commitment and performance.
Where what’s to be done is ephemeral and ill defined, determining what to do is governed by chance or feelings. To quote an old but applicable adage: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” How can anyone commit to anything without being able to visualize what it would be if it were done, and how to measure performance along the way? How many times have we heard, “I’ve got to exercise more.” Or, “I’ve got to go on a diet.” Of course, there’s no commitment to exercise or diet unless there’s a finite, measurable result one is striving to achieve by those two wish-based activities. Nor can any sense of achievement occur, which is necessary to confidence and self esteem.
In summary, the activity-oriented managers referred to above were reactive and crisis-controlled. They didn’t feel needed unless there was a crisis for them to solve. They managed by feelings instead of reasoned proaction. Most were like rudderless ships subject to prevailing winds for direction. They had no specific investments in the future to determine and guide their efforts in the present. They required an inordinate amount of supervision, which only made matters worse because they devoted their efforts primarily to that which was emphasized by their supervisors at the moment, and neglected other responsibilities. And intra-divisional conflicts abounded. There is a management axiom descriptive of this example: “Where there is an inordinate lack of planning there is an inordinate need for control.” Activity-oriented parents are all too familiar with examples of this axiom.
Is this illustration relevant to the average person in everyday life? You bet it is—even more so. The diagnostic test is that there is a lack of commitment by a large portion of our population to a result for which all of us should be held accountable, which is: A viable, virtuous, wholesome, growing, prosperous, healthful, peaceful, and self-replacing society of neighbors exists, and is protected and maintained by all citizens. We should all be responsible for seeing that this is DONE! Simply put, this result statement should be the consequences all of us should strive for when making our choices of activities in life. But, disastrously, this basic responsibility seldom occurs to the activity-oriented—much less being committed to it.
We are all inextricably dependent upon each other. It is fundamental. I can’t build my own house, generate my electricity, grow my own food in a city easily, make my own clothes, refine my own gasoline, construct my own TV, manufacture my car, print my own money, etc.etc. Also I must depend on my neighbors for protection, services, government structure with rules to maintain order, and, yes, spiritual support. Without the love of my neighbors I could be at war with them in which nobody wins. If we don’t love and respect our neighbors it is certain that we will destroy each other. There is a Scripture, Galatians 5: 13-15 which sums it all up: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word in the statement: You shall love your neighbor as your self. But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.”
Activity-oriented people try to do “what’s right in their own eyes,” with no commitment to a standard of what’s right for society—their neighbors. They are like rudderless ships with no charted course, and with no thought for the safety of their fellow passengers. In brief they are feelings oriented and not consequence oriented. And what is calamitous is that they feel they should have government protected “rights” to behavioral activities that are harmful to society. And the reason that I term it “calamitous” is that politicians and courts are supporting those “rights.” Public schools are teaching our children that they have such “rights,” i.e., “If it feels good do it.” And, foolish me, I thought our government was established to protect society!
In brief, there is a pervasive human proclivity to behave destructively in the present without regard for the inevitable deadly impacts on their neighbors in the future. And worse yet, they equate license with “freedom”, and are very vociferous, and even rabid, in defending their “rights” to licentious behavior. Such behavior is in direct opposition to the society-protecting objective explained above; and, can hardly be called intelligent behavior!
Most people live and make choices in the present without defining and committing to objective standards that determine consequences in the future, and by which they can plan their behavior and judge their performance in the present. Thus, they are activity-oriented as opposed to being result- or consequence-oriented.
Activity-orientation makes for Vulnerability
The activity-oriented person I’m addressing here will make choices based mostly on feelings or attitudes. This makes them vulnerable to all sorts of addictions and destructive behavior because they “feel it’s right or attractive”. Without well defined positive standards and personal objectives there’s no way for them to evaluate available choices affecting their and their neighbors’ future. I’m well aware that there are those who are result-oriented in the fields of objective science and business areas. But, they are a small minority of the population. And they too become activity-oriented when it comes to feelings and moral behavior. The recent criminal convictions of some Executives of large firms certainly attest to the validity of that observation.
Examples of proclivity-based destructive behavior together with descriptions of the consequences will be examined later. But first, an equally pervasive propensity must be examined and explained, because one follows the other.
To Justify an Attitude-based Opinion
Facts are irrelevant
The proclivity to rationalize destructive behavior even in the face of contrary facts is destroying our moral base and our republic. This is exhibited even at the highest levels of our government.
We assume we are primarily reasoning human beings; but, our behavior refutes this assumption. We think we come to conclusions and form opinions after examining facts and evidence. But this certainly isn’t true where feelings are concerned; we do just the opposite. We arrive at feelings- or attitude-based opinions and then search for reasons and evidence in effort to justify those opinions. Politics is replete with this. And our moral deterioration can be traced directly to this proclivity. A simple illustration of this is when one “wants” a new car but has a good, serviceable, three year old car in the garage. Then “want” becomes a “need”; the need becomes a “right”; and all sorts of reasons are constructed to justify that need and assert that right. If one’s frugal spouse objects to the expenditure and refutes all those justifications there will be a new set constructed for tomorrow’s argument, which inevitably will occur.
Attitude is generally more powerful than reason, facts, or truth in determining human behavior. Think about that. For part two click below.
© 2006 Bill Champion - All Rights Reserved
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Bill Champion is a semi-retired management consultant who has been active in several fields: Developing managers from “caretakers” to motivated, result-oriented achievers; Management team development; Developing and writing management training manuals; Arbitrator; Negotiator collective bargaining agreements;
Active in state political arena; Contract lobbyist at Nevada State Legislature for Gaming Industry and private businesses; University Instructor in Labor relations. A graduate of Case-Western Univ. Vice president of Human Resources at original MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas.
Those are indeed strong assertions; but, they are factual. The Bible, God’s manual for man’s survival, has been effectively removed from public venues. It instructs us in Jeremiah 17: 5, 9, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart departs from the Lord.