Saturday, February 11, 2017

Are you subjected to the language of societal scripts when objective assessments would provide better outcomes?

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me" was a common retort many of us made to the teasing of our playmates. Some of us then got knocked upside our block while others walked away in content self-satisfaction. However, I contend that words may hurt you or your child custody case.

The use of language in everyday communication is often done without consideration for accuracy or bias. To understand how easy it is to be subjected to this I provide an example using the Sun. Dawn and dusk are, respectively, when the Sun is exposed in the morning and is hidden in the evening as Earth rotates on its axis. Yet the expressions of the rising and setting Sun, which attribute movement to it around a stationary Earth, are nearly ubiquitous even though Copernicus developed the Heliocentric theory nearly 500 years ago. Implicit in the expressions of a rising and setting Sun are the highly improbable Geocentric view which is held by only the severely intellectually impaired or delusional.

It is not my intention in this essay to convince you to modify your speaking to make it scientifically correct but, rather, to help you learn how to shed the presumptions that limit your options and may impair your desired outcomes while enslaving you to adverse habits or presumptions.

Explicit and implicit biases appear throughout the use of language often to the benefit of those from whom the words originate and to the detriment of those receiving them. Language that contains bias is said to be slanted. In rhetoric, loaded language is wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes. Marketers may use persuasive techniques to convince you that some outcomes are not your responsibility nor are they within the domain of your influence or control.

Societal scripting results when ideas are implanted, first, through introduction by the proprietor of the scripting and, second, through reinforcement by being repeated by society at-large. They become habitual and passed on to subsequent generations. Failure to recognize societal scripting that diverts or diffuses accountability can be costly to you in numerous ways including impeding your parent-child relationship and custody case.

For years I have been counseling parents for the purpose of modifying their behaviour to be more consistent with that which benefits their children and is desirable by the courts. At the root of this is personal accountability and an understanding of the vast influence that we have over our outcomes. This directly contradicts societal norms which I here seek to dispel in part.

Someone who is at fault for an adversity may claim it to be an accident. Few incidents occur by chance though. An example of an accident is damage as a result of a meteorite strike. We may hear the mindless tripe spewing forth from talking heads on television news programs claiming a spate of automobile accidents due to challenging weather conditions such as a snow storm. Yet these claims are as judgmental as claiming negligence or fault attributed to drivers which we won't hear. The claim of weather causing an accident means that if every driver was put through the same conditions that the same result would happen or that every vehicle of the same model/year as the first to wreck would also wreck under the same conditions. I explain that in greater detail here. The objective description is that there were vehicular wrecks or collisions.

It is of particular importance to take responsibility for your actions rather than attributing them to chance. This is not solely for the purpose of holding you accountable for mistakes. Taking responsibility for your actions also means that you take credit for your successes. Life is not filled with lucky and unlucky moments nor is it fated. Success is the result of numerous factors which may include the willingness to take risks, making investments, self-confidence, perseverance, delayed gratification, and more. As you assess your outcomes as being your successes or failures you are more likely to attempt to build upon your successes and correct your mistakes rather that sit idly awaiting the next fated outcome.

Insurance companies are enriched by society's perception that the great hand of fate may strike individuals with some type of calamity at any moment. Yet these very companies have tables used to assess risk using a rubric that contains numerous factors from individual's demographic, personality, and behavioural traits. Clearly they know we are not struck purely by chance. I don't use insurance opting instead to accept responsibility myself. I don't expose myself to the radiation emanating from smoke detectors thereby reducing the probability of bodily cellular damage resulting in a need for medical care. I exercise vigorously daily. I consume a vegan diet of food. While driving I am hyper-aware of all threats imposed by other drivers, road conditions, and additional foreseeable threats such as those from animals or aircraft. Similarly, I am acutely aware of potential threats to my home. The difference between the manner in which I and a neighbor manage electricity illustrate this.

Every few years I pull all plugs from outlets. Then I watch the meter for awhile to see if there is any measure of conversion occurring. I also pull and clean all breakers. I am careful not to overload breakers/lines and run new lines as needed. Conversely, I have a neighbor who takes a different approach. While visiting one time I noticed a vast web of cords plugged into a series of outlet splitters culminating into one outlet. I mentioned to her that having about 15 cords plugged into one outlet is a presumptive danger and that she may want to consider moving some or doing a maximum load assessment. Her reply was that she prays to god everyday that he protect her house from fire, flood, and etcetera but that if he decides that it will catch on fire there is nothing she can do about it.

Her type of thinking is costly. Not just financially but physically and emotionally. As I said, "having about 15 cords plugged into one outlet is presumptive danger" is just what a CPS worker or CASA [likely not adept at electrical wiring] would note even if the load was well under the breaker/wiring limit.

As parents it is ultimately our responsibility to provide for the well-being of our children. During custody battles this obligation is more acute and parents must increase their vigilance to ensure it is fulfilled. The health of children during times of parental conflict or family upheaval may be at greater jeopardy from the level of stress imposed upon them. A subgroup of the greater Christian cult has abdicated their responsibility in this domain by instead relying upon imaginary outside agency. Members of the Christian Scientists have been prosecuted for their deliberate neglect of their children through rejecting medical intervention. Yet, to a large extent, Americans adhere to this principle on a lesser degree. I have a cousin who is one such person.

A few years ago when she was around my age now [50 years] she was found to have cancer. Regular updates were posted on Facebook as were the requests for continued prayers. She was in the hospital for quite some time so clearly she did avail herself of modern medical procedures. But, she still did not take responsibility for her condition or, in the alternative, seek to prevent it from recurring. She relied upon outside agency being the medical care providers and the imaginary intercessory god. This was clearly illuminated when she said that upon leaving the hospital the first thing she did was go to McDonald's for a hamburger.

The Western medical community is beginning to correctly attribute the cause of cancer but has not fully accounted for it as Eastern providers have done. Likely, your Western medical provider will admit that about 80% of cancers are self-imposed but will still hold a bias that it is a societal imposition rather than being deliberate on a personal level. Eastern providers are more likely to place the rate of attribution at about 95% with a bias being much heavier toward personal responsibility.

So much of the actions of the members of society and rote, habitual performances based upon common procedure or belief. Likely you engage in such and it may be detrimental to you or your family. If this essay has encouraged you to think deeper about why you take actions [not doing something is also taking an action] and if you can have greater control in doing so then I have achieved my objective. As I depart in words I leave you with an additional thought about titles and the attached presumptions.

If you need work done on the plumbing in your home who do you seek to do that? Your first thought may have been "a plumber". I contend that there is a better option - a person competent in plumbing. That person may be you.

Indiana law provides that, "in order to safeguard the life, health, and public welfare of its citizens," [IC 25-28.5-1-1] a person who is not a licensed plumber may not advertise that he provides the services of a plumber. However, a person is allowed to do plumbing work for hire if he is a building maintenance person and doing the work at his place of employment or may do so otherwise if he is not paid. Also, a building/dwelling owner may do plumbing work on his building/dwelling if it is designed for occupancy as eight or less residential units. [IC 25-28.5-1-32]

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©2008, 2016 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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