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39 I want this result, but …
Four steps to resolution
“I want this result, but …”
precedes failure. It is a self-limiting belief. Success follows
“I want this result bad.” That is an ungrammatical way of
stating a goal. Today we seek the sweet spot between abandonment
(too little) and unrealistic demands (too much).
My first illustration is universal
healthcare, an economy of scale that is working well for the
industrial countries other than the United States. They have
comparable, frequently better, health statistics at a much lower
fraction of people’s total income. As with public water supply
and fire protection, a universal health maintenance program
reduces costs while assuring distribution of benefits wherever
The second illustration comes from news
reporting of several years ago. A dynamic executive-type leader
moved into a town where children walked to school alongside open
sewers, at great risk to their health. He was favored in the
mayoral election because of his vigorous infrastructure
improvement program. However, he lost the voting, presumably
because of rumors that his program included fining residents who
did not clean up private property.
In these cases, we wonder why the science
of prevention and the science of home values did not carry the
day. That leads to a third illustration: In contrast to political
elections, many practices are established by cultural norms. For
example, there are societies that eat horses and dogs. Many
Americans object to both, legal or not. There are also cultural
differences regarding sexual behavior and cutting the human body.
Do we send the Marines to make them stop the practices?
People’s behavior in these illustrations
is not based in logic. Today’s lesson is not on the logic of
healthcare or human behavior. I am asking how to respond when our
associates, near and far, are not logical.
First, we examine the discomfort,
which itself is not necessarily logical. (Is it unscientific to
eat dogs?) A substantial dose of enlightenment might change
either viewpoint or both.
Second, let us determine whether
the discomfort should be allowed to mellow without conscious
action. Feelings might change, and forceful interference might
well be wasted effort.
Third, a fair weighing process
requires neutrality. If the discomfort is so real that something
needs fixing and the situation will not fix itself over time,
evaluation becomes appropriate. Fairness prevents either
side from unilaterally imposing a result on the other. Humans
having opposed positions and equal rights need an external
reference for comparison. Flipping a coin is the least
sophisticated external decision mechanism. Democracy utilizes
voting to select actions, but it does not establish underlying
truth. These “equal” approaches are not scientific evaluations of
The first three steps are practical for
avoiding bloodshed or other bad consequences. They are not
Fourth, we move to higher ground,
where we refine our mores and practice improved norms. Among the
original choices, we do not designate right or wrong. We do not
expect any one of them to prevail. Over time they lead us to
synthesis, that is, new generation. By contributing, combining,
and improving, all the parties grow; they create the
Being For Others Blog copyright © 2020 Kent Busse
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