Home » Society » If YOU Pay the Price, then YOU Count the Cost: Discipline and a Life of Personal Responsibility

If YOU Pay the Price, then YOU Count the Cost: Discipline and a Life of Personal Responsibility

One of my goals in writing each week is to help people become better Bible readers. Part of being a better Bible reader is being a better thinker.

  • Part of being a better thinker is to learn to look beyond the surface of an issue to discover the roots of ideas. To ask and discover, “Why does this person think these things are so?”
  • Part of being a better thinker is to learn to pay attention to what you and the person with whom you are communicating assume to be true that might NOT be true.
  • Part of being a better thinker is to learn to question both your own and other people’s definitions for the terms you all use.
  • Part of being a better thinker is to disentangle emotions from ideas.

That said….

I am a little embarrassed to write this in print, but I recently ordered and have begun watching, “The Doris Day Show,” which ran from 1968-1973. [I’m not really embarrassed, I adore Doris Day.] In episode #2 Doris’ youngest son, feeling jealous over his brother’s praise for being on the baseball team, begins a process of deceit to garner praise for himself and to ward off disappointment in him that ends up causing destruction to other people’s property and plays the family for fools for days. Doris blames herself for “making him feel bad” for “being insensitive.” Her father takes responsibility for the boy’s lies saying “How could I be so dumb.” She says of her son’s escalating deception, “He HAD to lie.” Emphasis hers. The boy is not scolded for his lies, but receives an apology from Mom and Grandpa for creating this situation. He is not made to pay for the destroyed property by working, nor to apologize to those whom he deceived or whose property was destroyed. Mama’s pity for hurt feelings abolished even the thought of delivering structured consequences… he was suffering after all. This was a lesson that a real boy whose developing character was not the product of imaginative screen writers would have learned differently than this fictionalized good boy, who, armed with a get out of jail free card, becomes an ideal citizen and never does it again.

In fact, the first episode of the show was dedicated to the idea that good parents shade children’s feelings from the reality of cost in the world. A business man is ripped off by Doris’ demand that he charge only what her kids have on hand rather than hurt their “pride of buying Mommy dinner” even though they can’t pay for it by even half.

So by 1968, everyone’s favorite girl next door, grown into everyone’s favorite TV mom, preaches the idea that personal responsibility is a thing of the past… that the best thing that parents can do is to shield their children from both natural, social, and structured consequences for their actions. That feeling bad is the worst thing that can ever happen to a kid.

I’ve read enough of the historical realities of “leftist” ideology to have the date 1960 stand out as a tipping point in which leftist judges, lawmakers, media and university professors began to win their age long war against the ideology that underpinned the founding of America. Indeed, they began to win the war against a biblical vision of man as a creature who owes something to both his creator and to fellow creatures in terms of his own personal behavior. They began to win the war against personal responsibility in a mudslide triumph that is reaching insane levels today after 7 years of a radical progressive presidency. In this new America, Freedom means doing whatever you want without consequence. Equality means a manipulation of the rules for some to create equality of outcome for all, regardless of gifting, investment, or effort. Rights have become the right to get something for nothing while violating everyone else’s natural rights to life, liberty and property. One’s personal claim to victimhood, hurt feelings, or offense trumps all personal and social responsibility for one’s actions.

In one interview I remember with a KGB defector in the early 80s, he bemoaned the fact that the communists had already beaten us, [intending the foundational vision of the world upon which communist thinking was based] that America and all that it stood for was already dead… we just hadn’t finished kicking yet. They had beaten us in our minds and hearts and passions. They had beaten us through legislation, courts, universities and media. While not using these exact words he suggested that they had beaten us at primary levels of “visions of reality” and “our logical starting points” reorienting our every thought around atheistic perceptions of the human condition.

At the core, progressive ideology [under any name] misconstrues human nature and human potential. It imagines that humanity is progressing as a species (being pliable by nature) and not merely in its technological and social frame works. It believes that there is nothing wrong with humanity, that all the worlds problems are created by failed institutions which a special class of elite human beings are able to fix if only the rest of humanity would allow them to do it by yielding all of their freedoms to them so that they can re-create the world with a free hand. Then even basic human response will change to reflect and support their envisioned Utopia.

When the first brick in the wall is askew, there is no hope for the wall.

Man is the problem with the world. Human nature is not flexible. No one is smart enough or strong enough or wise enough to re-create human reality. People are self-interested and short sighted. They tend to take the path of least resistance and to seek shortcuts. Always and forever… amen.

Pain and pleasure are the great teachers. People’s choices will almost always evolve around pain avoidance and reward acquisition, however varied pain and reward can be. Period. People avoid pain and gravitate toward pleasure. Seems basic. When something hurts people stop doing it, unless some pretty powerful ideas convince a person that on the other side of pain is even greater pleasure than is possible without the pain.

When we reward something (even when we don’t know we are rewarding it) people will do more of it. So, what you fund you get more of. Fund indolence and you foster indolence. Reward hard work, dedication, work ethic, creative problem solving and skill and people will develop these qualities.

When we punish something (even when we don’t know we are punishing it) people will do less of it. Just so, tax married people harder for being married, fewer people will marry.

Historically people have used structured consequences in order to prevent foolish children from being swept away by natural or larger social consequences that are far more brutal. We are too “tender hearted” for that nowadays, but being well meaning won’t save your children from the devastating consequences for failing to learn self-control, wisdom, and the path of safety and goodness.

Conversely, when we fail to punish something that springs from destructive self-interested tendencies, we get more of it. When nature or society would punish something but we deflect that punishment from a person, the lessons that nature or society would have taught aren’t learned and the behaviors that nature and society would curb aren’t curbed, but conversely encouraged… anti-social tendencies that feed selfish impulses have no price attached to them, and people have no reason to change. Fund indolence and you prevent the natural consequences of indolence from curing the indolent. Make excuses for criminal behavior and stay the hand of punishment and crime will rise. Disarm law abiding citizens and criminals will have less to fear from them and crime will rise. It’s basic sense if one starts in the right place. Allow someone to abuse you without consequence and they will go on abusing you in escalating ways.

Whatever a person claims to want to accomplish in the world, the incentives they create (pain & reward) in keeping with these basic unchanging realities about human nature will dictate what the real results will be. In this, a person may surprise you, but people never will. One can count on the fact that the mass of humanity will follow incentive instinctually right to their natural outcomes… which will seldom be the outcomes politicians claim to be pursuing when they create those incentives by interfering in the natural processes of human interaction.

When analyzing a politician’s position, whether in the making of a law or the establishment of a program, don’t look at what they claim to want to accomplish, follow the natural course of the incentives that they set down.

And remember, the incentive for politicians is to LOOK like they are helping, by doing things that are popular, whether or not the things they do actually help anybody. If you challenge their actions they will claim that you “hate” or “don’t care about” whatever mascot group they are championing, but the issues are not whether party A cares about, say, the Poor, but what actions party A imagines will best help the Poor.

Look to the roots of action. Pay attention to basic incentives. Track those. This is the life of discipleship that begins at infancy, curbing destructive behavior, calling the heart to attend to its own need for salvation from a wicked heart, made plain in the constant struggle of the soul to evade consequence for selfish desires and actions in the face of parental, societal, and biblical condemnation.

If YOU Pay the Price, then YOU Count the Cost and adjust behavior. This goes for your kids, thieves, rapists, murderers, and those who riot and burn down their own communities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: