Remember the brothers last week who bought Christmas trees for $100, and sold them for $50? When they discovered they were losing money, the plan was to build a bigger business and “make it up in volume.” Absurd, yes, but that type of thinking is all too common.
Last week we dealt with the insanity of having a broken business model, public or private, government agency or private business, and claiming that making it bigger would fix it. “Get a Bigger Truck.”
This week we are talking about something equally nuts–and wrong, i.e., making yourself better by tearing others down. For example, can you make your furniture any better by going in and breaking up your neighbor’s? Of course not, but let’s read on.
Imagine someone going in to smash up your neighbor’s home, then claiming that something or other that was said to them was “verbal violence.” It does not matter what was said, the only thing that matters to them is the claim. So they feel justified in countering verbal violence with physical violence. Walk in with them, those who believe this is the right thing to do. I’ll go with you, while they have their baseball bats in hand. Perhaps they are part of an ad hoc organization named, “Every Neighborhood a Safe Neighborhood.” Who could argue with that? What they mean is safe from things they don’t what to hear. Others likely think they mean safety like being physically safe in their homes. And the misunderstanding is intentional. Now, do we stand by and watch, or do we take some sort of action?
Last week, we went from what seemed like an absurd example, fixing a broken private of government business model by spending more money and getting bigger, and tied it to what is going on all around us, all the time.
Today, let’s tie in some Breaking Furniture examples. One currently in the news is defending a politician’s sexual peccadilloes by pointing out that other politicians, usually from the “other side” did it first–and worse. Isn’t that exactly like breaking up the other guy’s furniture to make yours better?
Here’s another, more general example: Identity politics. “You’re bad because you are a…; I am good because I am not.” More furniture breaking.
When people argue, and I am guilty of this, the tack is often to make the other person as well as their position look as bad as possible. Very little acknowledgment of the other person’s position–or even their sanity–is offered. When kids hear their parents arguing like this, when they hear the furniture breaking, do you think they care who is right and who is wrong? No, of course not; they just want to live in a home without that kind of pain. Parents who model productive discussions is what they want.
And what about the oft referred to political independents? How often have you heard, “The independents are going to decide this election.”? When they hear the two main sides dumping on each other–breaking each other’s furniture–the sought-after independents might very well believe both sides’ caustic criticism of the other’s, and walk away in disgust. “A pox on both their houses.”
Breaking someone else’s furniture does make yours better–by comparison. And you might get to feel superior in that sad way. But you can either feel superior or you can make a positive difference: pick one.
Note that when we give clear examples like the Christmas trees and breaking furniture, everyone gets it about how insanely wrong that kind of thinking is. However, when the fog of real life shows up, our thinking gets fuzzy and clarity fades. And that’s a prime reason why we tackle topics like Everyday Wisdom examples here at Results With Reason.
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It is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Results With Reason, it is not simply change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.
Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.
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