Thursday, March 12, 2009

Post No. 93: “Every Issue Has Two, Three, Possibly 27 Sides”

© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

The Logistician often just stops people on the street, and starts a conversation.

He asks them to visit our blog, and they always respond with laughter when he says, “We believe that there are more than two or three ways to look at any issue; on occasion we've seen as many as 27.”

In an earlier post, we spoke of the propensity, because of their genetic coding, of a colleague’s 29 Dobermans to bark, snarl, and attack whenever we approach his house.

We focused on the tone of social discourse today, and our concerns about the negative effects of unadulterated nastiness.

We suggested that humans are blessed with the ability to think and reason, and to learn and practice Common Sense, and that we must be guided, in Lincoln’s words, “by the better angels of our nature.”

The 27 points of view which greeted the Doberman piece were wide-ranging. We won't revisit the comments posted, other than to say that the piece revolved entirely around the concept of Personal Responsibility.

Here's a small example.

Earlier today, someone on our staff agreed to go to a local fried chicken franchise restaurant, to pick up “breakfast biscuits,” with fried eggs, smoked sausage, bacon, and such.

When he returned with the bounty, it occurred to us that there was nothing but slow death spread on the table. We wondered, “Who wants to consume these artery clogging products?”

As the aroma of the food drew those in our office to the table - man, did it smell good! - we thought of how much finger-pointing goes on these days, and how little responsibility is taken for our choices.

We later heard a news report about Bernard Madoff, and his alleged 50 billion dollar Ponzi scheme, and for which he pled guilty in federal court. He was promptly sent off to jail and will be sentenced for his crimes in mid-June.

One of our colleagues asked, “What does it say about us as a society, other than that some of us are tremendously gullible and greedy? I mean, not doing due diligence? Shouldn’t those investing in his fund have been at least a little suspicious of Madoff's claims about his fund's steady growth?”

(Some - die-hard conservatives, we think - have even suggested that Madoff has not done anything different than what our federal government has done with its administration of Social Security funds, and yet no government official will serve any time for the government's sleight of hand.)

As we prepare to throw Bernie into the Dobermans’ den of another sort, we should ask ourselves, “Why are we so quick to point the finger at others for our own failings?”

One possible explanation: we’re uncomfortable with the image we see when we look in a mirror. Not the image itself, of course, but of what we know has resulted from the decisions we've made in our lives.

There’s a story which the Logistician often tells during his motivational workshops.

It’s Riverside, California several years ago. The clubs are closed and two teenage girls have been partying. One of the girls has difficulty rousing her cousin, and ultimately calls 911.

The authorities arrive to find the other teenager slumped in a stupor behind the wheel of the car after 2 a.m. In her lap is a weapon.

At some point, there is some movement which makes the officers think their lives may be at risk. In excess of 42 bullets are spent.

Civil rights advocates immediately start screaming about the use of “excessive force,” and “police brutality.”

We viewed the situation differently. We asked, “What was the girl doing there in that condition in the first place?”

One committing an irresponsible act can’t control the response of others, or expect the response to be one acceptable to the actor. What we need to do, as Barney Fife would say, is “nip it in the bud” early on in the sequence of events.

Be diligent. Be pro-active.

There is a poem, “You’re the Result of Yourself,” by Pablo Neruda which we posted some months ago. At the time, we noted that the poem embodies many of the principles central to the concepts we discuss, and promoted by the Institute for Applied Common Sense.

It’s appropriate to revisit it at this time. After all, “You’re the Result of Yourself.”

The next time that you bitch about your health, think about all of those breakfast biscuits you’ve consumed over the years.

© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense


  1. Oh, but those breakfast biscuits and donuts and pastries are so incredibly good, so tasty! Same for all the other things my doctor tells me to avoid. But you, and he, are right.

    I'm the result of myself. And it's time for me to be diligent. Not only with regard to the foods I eat but also to what I think and say, especially when someone has said something to me that troubles me so much I really want to have it out with them verbally right then and there. Which absolutely wouldn't resolve the issue at all, would it?

    A wise, very successful man I once heard about supposedly carried a piece of paper in his wallet his entire adult life. On the paper were just a few words: "Maybe he's right."

  2. Thanks for joining us Curvin. We couldn't have articulated it better ourselves. Being aware is the key, along with the ability to restrain ourselves from acting irrationally. It's what separates us from the Dobermans.

  3. It takes unconditional love to tell us what we need to hear and courage for us to decide to listen and act with a sense of responsibility. Thanks for the love and the reminder.

  4. Welcome back Dan. Your input is always appreciated.

  5. I think we are a mixture of the genetics of our parents, molded and modified by the environments we have lived in and the people who have influenced (whether we know it or not) over the years.

    I like the lyric...

    "he's a walking contradiction,
    partly truth and partly fiction."

    Aren't we all?

  6. We're surprised that we have not received more challenges to the concepts expressed in this post. Typically, folks on both sides of the aisle attack what we present with gusto. Why not in connection with this post?

  7. Maybe, just this once, you are right. Well, except about the Dobermans being genetically coded to bark and snarl at you.

  8. Rhetorical question: Is everything in the Bible "right?"

    "Right" for once? Hmmm. Does that mean that the right, the left, and the middle can form a consensus as to what is "right?" Hmmm.

  9. Thanks for visiting my blog and the comment. Take care.

    I will be visiting yours more often, very interesting. :)

  10. Thanks much for checking us out Carrie Amie. See you soon, and hopefully often.

  11. here here, i agree. That's why i wrote that blog piece.

  12. Rhetorical question: Is everything in the Bible "right?"

    "Right" for once? Hmmm. Does that mean that the right, the left, and the middle can form a consensus as to what is "right?" Hmmm.


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